Kelly Goodsel is a busy man.
The chief executive of Corry’s Viking Plastics juggles his business, a wife and four children, and coaching the Corry varsity girls volleyball team.
Still, Goodsel found time to attend a Corry 2020 Vision public brainstorming forum Monday night in council chambers. 2020 Vision forums are being held to plan a long-range action plan to shape Corry’s future during the next decade.
“I’m a firm believer in standing up and speaking my mind,” Goodsel said. “These forums give every citizen the opportunity to give their opinion.”
Monday’s forum was hosted by Corry City Council and led by Renee Lamis, Ph.D., of Dynamic Visions Consulting, who was hired by the Corry Community Development Corp. to head the visioning process.
2020 Vision, Corry’s second strategic planning process in 10 years, is being financed by a $35,000 grant from the Corry Community Foundation.
Its purpose is to focus on imagining Corry’s future, understanding its challenges, building on its strengths, and completing projects that make Corry a better place to live.
Goodsel, one of 13 people to attend Monday’s forum, believes the latest visioning process is a good idea.
“Some good things came out of the last one,” he said. “If you want to get some place, you have to know where you are going.”
Lamis has conducted 22 public forums since May. Others have been held for targeted groups like the Corry Area School District, Corry Memorial Hospital and the Corry YMCA.
“The response has been good for a city with this population,” Lamis said. “Things are going well.”
Along the way, Lamis is gathering a long list of projects that soon will be pruned to develop a concrete plan of action to shape the city’s future for the next 10 years.
Forum participants are invited to brainstorm the strengths and weaknesses of the community.
Strengths identified Monday included Corry’s varied seasons, friendly residents, proximity to major cities, relative low cost of living, school system and natural resources.
Equal attention was given to the weaknesses of the Corry area.
Participants brought up city dwellers’ perception of Corry as a backward city, low property values, aging infrastructure, a declining job market, high property taxes, poor discipline in Corry schools, the highway system, and people migrating out of the city.
Once those strengths and weaknesses were identified, Lamis asked Corry’s five councilmen and the others in attendance to envision where they would like to see Corry to be 10 years from now. Then they were charged with suggesting specific projects to accomplish their goals.
Among the group’s priorities were enacting stricter zoning ordinances to rid the city of blighted property, continuing to work for regionalization of government and services, supporting a community college in Erie County, improving the highway corridor linking the city with Erie and Warren, improving city streets, and identifying and supporting a candidate to run for political office at the county, state or national level.
Each public forum is different, and Monday’s was no exception, Lamis said.
“Most forums bring together different walks of life,” she said. “This one had more of a government focus, with ideas coming forward like the regionalization of services and the paving of streets.”
The brainstorming phase of 2020 Vision is nearly complete. The final public forums will be held Oct. 15 and Oct. 20 at the Corry Higher-Education Council, 221 N. Center St. The forums will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Additional forums will be held with Corry student ambassadors and the Corry History Club.
Once the forums are completed by the end of October, Lamis and her the 2020 Vision coordinating committee will compile all the ideas and target proposed projects.
Corry residents will get another chance to vote on those projects at a public meeting to be scheduled in the near future. The public also may vote on project ideas on the Vision 2020 Web site, www.corry2020.com.
The next step will be to form action teams of community volunteers, who will begin implementing some of the projects.
“We would like to have action teams in place as early in November as we can,” she said. “Some smaller projects can be done quickly. For others, we will have to build a strong foundation before we see any progress.”
The first visioning process was started in February 1996 during a Corry Industrial Roundtable meeting. The process was completed in 1999.