Belleair Town Manager J.P. Murphy

Belleair Town Manager J.P. Murphy, left, receives a “Hometown Hero” award from Angela Crist of the Florida League of Cities. Murphy was honored for his advocacy of home rule for Florida’s municipalities.

BELLEAIR — For months, town officials and residents have been searching to define goals and objectives to make the community a better place to live. The results are in and now the task of making it all happen begins.

Several months ago, the USF Florida Institute of Government was contracted by the town to carry out a visioning process to discover what people wanted from their town. Several public meetings and executive forums were held and interviews done.

In the end, six themes or strategic issues were identified as starting points for the town to tackle to meet the goals and reviewed by town commissioners Oct. 15.

The six themes were: communication, community character, infrastructure, leadership and management, partnership and intergovernmental cooperation and town services.

Each of those issues was then broken down further to create a longer priority list. The top five on that list were: financial responsibility, proactive policing, pavement quality, preservation of the bluff and the water supply.

The town’s strategic plan identified financial responsibility and proactive policing as central to the overall operation of the town to make sure it is fiscally sound and safe.

Pavement quality was identified by the residents as important to their quality of life. Recently there have been complaints about the quality of the pavement on the older streets in town. Poor pavement leads to poor quality streets laden with potholes and washouts.

Preservation and protection of the Bluff was viewed as an urgent matter for the town. Concerns have been expressed about the potential deterioration of the bluff and the development of the area as a town park.

Another urgent matter is the town’s water supply. Discussion over the intrusion of salt into the wells that supply the town’s water has led to two options for the community: either build a reverse osmosis plant to treat the water or turn the system over to the county and let them address the issue. The town commission eventually will be asked to make a decision on the topic.

After all the priorities were identified, Commissioner Karla Rettstatt asked when work will get started on the goals.

Town officials plan to address the issues in spring to coincide with budget season.

“April is a good time to get going,” said Town Manager J.P. Murphy.

Part of the development of the plans as outlined in the document is the involvement of the various town advisory boards. They will be given the task of studying the priority list and coming up with ideas and suggestions to achieve the goals outlined. Over the years there has been discussion that the advisory boards have not had enough to do; now they will.

From there another checklist will be formed for the staff and commission to address. First the commission has to formally pass and adopt the strategic plan. Once that is done the staff and advisory boards will tackle each of the issues. The town staff will also have to keep a close eye on the progress of the developments and keep a “scorecard” to measure the progress.

Finally, it will all be renewed at an annual retreat to review the activity and review the priorities.

All that has been done to meet the stated mission of the town: “To be the best place to live on the West Coast of Florida.”