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Borough looking for planning coordinators

March 11th 12:03 am | Molly Dischner, The Bristol Bay Times-Dutch Harbor Fisherman Print this article   Email this article  

The Lake and Peninsula Borough is looking inward as it prepares to write strategic plans for the communities within its bounds.

Borough Manager Nathan Hill said the strategic planning process will try to maximize the use of local knowledge.

"[We're] trying to tap into local resources, people that are from the area," Hill said.

The borough is hiring four strategic planning coordinators to guide the planning process in 16 communities. Unlike some planning processes, which rely on coordinators from outside, the borough wants to hire residents for those positions.

The borough has grouped its communities geographically, and wants to hire one coordinator from each of four geographic regions: North, Lakes, Bay and South. The north Region includes Port Alsworth, Nondalton, Iliamna and Newhalen; the lakes region includes Igiugig, Kokhanok and Pedro Bay; the South region includes Chignik Lake, Chignik Lagoon, Chignik Bay and Perryville, and the Bay region includes Egegik, Levelock, Pilot Point, Ugashik and Port Heiden.

The borough is looking for individuals with facilitation and leadership skills, or those who are willing to learn them. Each coordinator will attend training in Anchorage, and then travel to a group of three to five villages to facilitate the strategic planning process in each community, including facilitating public meetings.

During the last round of strategic planning, in 2012, the borough relied more heavily on having outside consultants travel to village to village. The borough will still depend on some expertise from outside the region, including to train the coordinators, but Hill said he hopes that this method will enable the borough to accomplish more with fewer resources, and make for a "more authentic" product.

The strategic plans will guide future development and outline local goals in terms of education, infrastructure and other concerns, Hill said.

"We need to hear it from the communities, what's important to them," Hill said.

Borough Clerk and Community Development Director Kate Conley said she's looking forward to the new process.

"We're going to go out to the village and talk about the future," she said. "What's more exciting than that?"

The borough is on a relatively quick timeline. The coordinator jobs were posted in mid-February, and the goal is to finish at least the on-the-ground work by May.

But the information itself will be used long beyond that time. In addition to writing strategic plans based on the coordinators' village visits, the borough will use the information as it works on a new comprehensive plan, Conley said.

"This will be used as raw data in the comprehensive plan," Conley said.

The borough updates its comprehensive plan every five years, and is due for a new one next fall, Conley said. The document breaks down assets, challenges, and goals for the borough.

"Our comprehensive plan is supposed to be a sort of handbook, where we're going in the coming years," Conley said.

The last comprehensive plan identifies local needs such as more training for a variety of jobs and efforts to get more local hire in tourism jobs, and also outlines areas to focus growth on, like development of more local food sources and alternative energy sources, and protection of subsistence resources.

 

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