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Citizens Develop Ideas
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More than 75 people, ranging from teens to senior citizens, attended Mayor Pat Paul’s Citizen Action Committee meeting at the Gene Bianchi Community Center on Monday, March 14.

“We want to hear from you,” Paul told the group. “You’re the ones to tell us what you want and how you want the money spent.”

Oakdale citizen Bob Taylor facilitated assembly that included presentations and topics from a skate board park, public safety responses, city volunteers, the airport and art programs for the City of Oakdale.

The committee, which has been meeting since the beginning of the year, was formed at the request of Mayor Paul to gather citizens interested in shaping the direction of Oakdale.

Matt Ryun, 15, led off the group of citizens with a request for a permanent ground level and sub-ground level skateboard park. Ryun pointed out that the park should be located in more of a central or downtown area with permanent concrete ramps that would require less upkeep than any temporary structure.

Ryun also fielded questions from the crowd about the best design of the park as well as what other interests local teenagers would want in a community center.

Oakdale Fire Captain Dan Cummins made a presentation about public safety using concerns and questions from previous meetings. Cummins discussed the advantages and disadvantages of having emergency personnel “cross trained” in both fire and police positions and how cities seem to be breaking from the practice. He also spoke about why multiple fire engines were needed on calls for service and the strategic positioning of fire stations for effective response times.

Mike Hancock proposed a citywide volunteer program titled CIVICS for CItizens Volunteering In City Services. He compared the proposed CIVICS program to the success of the police department’s CAPS volunteers.

Hancock used the example of volunteers identifying burnt out streetlights for the public works department as one of the useful purposes.

“With tough financial times,” said Hancock, “volunteers can help city departments maintain service levels.”

Hancock’s presentation included ways to recruit, select, and train the volunteers with a minimum of “red tape.” He also included how volunteers for the city could be rewarded. His idea that local merchants could provide a discount to city volunteers brought applause from the gathering.

Ramona Howard, a proponent of art programs for the city, arranged to have chalk drawings on the concrete squares outside of the Bianchi Community Center. Howard hopes to have an “Art Walk” in the downtown area soon to highlight local artists and bring interest to the city.

The next meeting of the Citizen Action Committee will be Monday, April 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Bianchi Community Center, 110 S. Second.