Lewisburg leadership retreat proposed

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lewisburg, Marshall County and regional agency officials appear headed to a church conference center in a few months to reflect on the city's growth and consider how to guide it in the future.

"Lewisburg is going to grow," Edmund Roberts, chairman of the city's Community Development Committee has told members of the City Council, "and we want it to grow the way we want it to grow."

Brainstorming to develop goals and planning on how goals would be achieved appear to be the tools proposed for this venture into shaping the community's future, and

Roberts has suggested that it be done at the Linden Valley Baptist Conference Center.

The Community Development Committee met Tuesday afternoon, when the schedule and location of the retreat were considered.

Lisa Jackson asked why the retreat's discussions couldn't be conducted on one day. It tentatively had been scheduled for a Friday night and Saturday morning in mid-March at the conference center.

Pam Russell indicated a reluctance to be away from her family overnight, and the mother of a child who's barely one year old expressed similar reservations.

"If we were running a business, we'd do this," Mayor Bob Phillips said. However, he acknowledged some members of the City Council cannot break away from work scheduled for that time.

Councilwoman Quinn Brandon has depositions scheduled for the Friday planned for the conference.

After the committee meeting on Tuesday, Roberts concluded that it appeared scheduling to retreat was "back to ground zero" now.

The idea -- recalling past projects and considering what similar developments might be planned -- apparently is still viable.

Roberts has spoken about obtaining the assistance of a "futurist" to help coordinate discussion during the retreat, which is to be coordinated to coincide with a Maury County organization to obtain the services of the same futurist.

"I'd like to talk about dreams," Phillips said of how life in a small town could be improved.

But beyond quality of life issues, the mayor extrapolated on a subject raised by Roberts.

"At some point, we might look to somewhere else for water if the Duck River can't be a source," Phillips said.

His comment came the day before the Duck River Agency board of directors was advised by its executive director that under certain conditions resulting from a rainfall deficit last year, the Duck River could go dry by Christmas. Roberts' remark was about Lewisburg's water source.

"It took vision to build the pipeline to the river," Roberts said of a nine-mile pipeline to the city's water treatment plant.

Vision for future generations was also part of city leaders' decision to build the bike path that generally parallels Rock Creek, Roberts said while explaining that the proposed leadership retreat include members of the City Council.

Such paths in other Middle Tennessee cities also follow creeks or are at rivers and offer opportunities for exercise, recreation. Some lead to train stations in anticipation of commuter rail service.

"We want to think into the future," Roberts told the council, citing several projects to improve Lewisburg.

One is the establishment of places for new employers at the industrial and business parks.

Another is on-going work to widen Mooresville Highway to a four-lane road.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has plans to call for bids on the state road construction contract. City and state agreements have been struck for relocating utility lines that parallel that path, State Route 373.

Beyond inviting City Council members, Roberts spoke of the retreat as being for members of the city's industrial development board, planning and zoning commissioners, and community development commissioners. Roberts chairs the community development commission.

With other city officials and people entitled to attend, there may be 30 people at the conference, according to an estimate from City Manager Eddie Fuller.

Roberts indicated that the conference is estimated to cost about $2,500.

Phillips said the cost could be drawn from an account in the budget that's set aside for transportation and related costs incurred by members of the council. That would apparently include transportation costs.

A retreat held at Henry Horton State Park a few years ago has been seen as less successful because some of the participants didn't attend some of the meetings.

Roberts indicated there were some "people sneaking off" from the other retreat.