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Jennette: City faces transition challenge

By Staff
Wants to help lead Washington toward a prosperous future
By MIKE VOSS, Contributing Editor
No matter who is on the new Washington City Council in December, Mayor Judy Meier Jennette said she and that council have plenty of work to do.
The new council should be prepared to spend a lot of time on long-term planning for the city. That’s one of the things the council will face as it prepares the city for the future, said Jennette, who is unopposed in her quest for a second two-year term as mayor.
Sixteen years as a council member and two years as mayor have provided her with an intimate knowledge of the city and its people, she said.
Jennette said she is “intrigued” and “excited” about the possibility of development in the city’s downtown. As for the possibility for development of the “super block” — an area including the former Fowle, Hotel Louise and Belk buildings on the south side of West Main Street and the property between those buildings and Stewart Parkway — in the future, Jennette said she will need more information on that proposal before making up her mind.
Developing that area, if it’s the right kind of development, could be good for the city, she said.
That transition frightens some city residents, she said.
The city must decide what kinds of development it wants, where the development should occur and how to encourage it, she said.
Properties that are in commercial or businesses zones such as the former Evans Seafood property should be developed, Jennette said. The open space adjacent to the former Evans Seafood site, a half-acre lot, should remain permanently as open space, she said.
Jennette said there’s plenty of work to do to improve the city’s fiscal health. The next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2008, and ends June 30, 2009, likely will be a “tight one” for the city, even more fiscally tight that the current fiscal year and the previous one, she said.
Although the city has reduced overall operating costs in the current fiscal year and the previous fiscal year, those cuts are affecting the quality of services the city provides, she noted.
Cutting costs is not the only way to improve the city’s financial status, she said.
Jennette said she remains committed to the city’s mission statement, particularly the part that calls for preserving and protecting the city’s unique Southern character and heritage.