Davidson starts public meetings at commissioners’ homes
by Staff Writer
DAVIDSON – The team building in Davidson has begun.
In an extra meeting this month, the Town Board met for a coined “team-building exercise.” They ditched business attire for comfortable dress and a relaxing meeting at Commissioner Connie Wessner’s house.
The meeting was open to the public and was announced as such, but no residents showed up – only two members of the media.
The reason for the meeting, Wessner said, came as a result of discussions from the commissioners’ Asheville retreat last month.
“One of the things that we talked about (in Asheville) is it used to be that when you looked at the composition of the town board, people tended to work in town at really flexible jobs. So they would see each other in the course of their days and could have all kind of informal discussions that nobody ever knew about, just because they were all out and about all day long,” she said.
“We all now have jobs that constrain us, so the only times we get to talk as a group of people, is when somebody hands us an agenda and says, you will speak in this order to these items. We don’t have any opportunity to just sit and talk about the issues we are hearing about. We never got that brainstorming piece of it.”
Public involvement was part of the discussion during the retreat last month. It was also a focal point for the team-building meeting at Wessner’s house.
The commissioners talked about how often they hear from citizens – a phone call or being approached on the street or at a grocery store. However, very few residents show up for regular board meetings.
As part of Davidson’s capital improvement plan, they have budgeted $5,500 for a printed version of the town newsletter that will be released twice a year and mailed to approximately 6,000 homes.
As a solution to the lack of public involvement, Wessner suggested that commissioners’ canvass their own neighborhoods at least one Sunday a month to urge residents to sign up for the town’s eCrier. Just over 1,000 people are registered to receive the electronic newsletter.
The commissioners believe that a printed newsletter would reach those without Internet or email access, though they know there is no guarantee that people will read it even if it’s delivered to their homes.
Jim Fuller extended Wessner’s suggestion by saying, that if commissioners decide to go door to door, urging residents to sign up for the eCrier, they should also ask for their opinions and suggestions on how the town is being run.
In other business
The board discussed the new black and red trash cans and how well Davidson fans and residents have received them. Local churches were surprised to find out that they are no longer being served.
Prior to the change, churches were having their trash picked up by “default.” Once the new schedule was implemented, churches were no longer getting their trash picked up, Wessner said.
Churches learned after contacting the town that they would now have to pay separately for trash pick-up.
The group also discussed the Davidson Community Garden and the need to have a water tap installed at the location. The garden’s produce is available for community members, but also goes to the Loaves & Fishes project. The cost of installing a tap would be around $2,000.
Wessner suggested that the town begin a program to help fund small projects that reflect the values of the town.
The board members announced a second “team-building” meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at Commissioner Brian Jenest’s home.