By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
EXETER– Exeter knows what it wants and knows how to get there. At last week’s, April 9 meeting, the Exeter City Council voted unanimously to adopt a vision statement and mission statement, inspired by residents of the town.
Serving as a foundational document, a vision statement guides an organizations direction for the future. Exeter crafted there’s to say:
“To protect, preserve and promote the historical charm of Small Town America in a safe family-friendly atmosphere surrounded by natural beauty with access to year-round outdoor activities, rich with unique traditions and high quality of life.”
While a vision statement looks at the direction an organization wants to go in, Exeter city manager Adam Ennis noted that a mission statement says more about how to get there. Exeter City Council decided they wanted their mission statement to inspire their citizens to feel like more of a team.
“In partnership with the community, the City of Exeter strives to protect, preserve and promote the best quality of life enjoyed by the residents and visitors with teamwork, transparency and collaboration in a fiscally sustainable manner.”
“This one feels like a team environment. Like we’re all working together,” councilmember Barbara Sally said.
Exeter administration turned to the public to decide what the City’s vision and mission statements should be. They posted a short survey earlier this year asking citizens three questions about what they think Exeter could improve on, what makes the community special and what shouldn’t change.
The public made it clear they think atmosphere, small town, downtown, safety and location is what makes Exeter a special place. More specifically, residents think that the atmosphere is created by the friendly and close-knit community that keep their traditions going. In terms of small town, while often times described as a feeling, residents know they want controlled growth. And despite the largest vacancy in A la Mode, leaving a huge hole in the heart of downtown, residents think Exeter is special because of their shops restaurants, local merchants and entrepreneurs.
Downtown pops up again when residents were asked what shouldn’t change about Exeter. In fact, downtown was the number one response. Residents like the downtown appearance, the local merchants, its character and the people who shop there. Appearance of downtown did not necessarily mean the murals. Instead murals came up as number five on the list of things that should not change.
Second in the list of things that shouldn’t change was the atmosphere. And thirdly were events. Residents expressed that they like the highlight events throughout the year. Respondents noted Christmas decorations, the town’s fireworks show, Fall Festival and the service clubs.
On the list of things that could be improved, residents put safety as their number one response. Respondents indicated they want more patrols, communication, parks and neighborhood watch. Ennis said he spoke with Chief of Police John Hall who noted that violent crimes are down in the City, but property crimes continue on and have gone up.
Other areas where residents think Exeter can improve are on roads. Specifically, residents want improvement to their alley ways, lighting, street cleaning and better access for the disabled. Some things though, the City can do little about. While the city likes downtown and want controlled growth, they also want to see an increase in business. Specifically they would like more modern businesses, more jobs, later hours and a theatre. What type of theatre? They didn’t specify.
Last on the list was the City’s water system. Residents would like to see the system repaired, but also have fewer restrictions on the water they currently use. This hasn’t been a new problem for residents. Since the hard hitting drought from 2012, cities and residents have been struggling to find the right balance to conserve. Water system repairs have plagued the City for years. As of late they have made improvements to the system by adding valves throughout the City to help contain future leaks and bursts that once left most if not all residents without water for hours.