Council will wait to realize Poulsbo vision

POULSBO — After last week’s heated discussion over the selection of the facilitator for the city’s visioning process, council members met the issue head-on one more time Wednesday night.

However, the Aug. 10 discussion saw the burner turned down several degrees and ended with Council members Mike Regis, Connie Lord and Kathryn Quade prevailing in a move to seek a wider selection of facilitators for the process. Councilmen Dale Rudolph and Jim Henry opposed the move.

“Tonight I’m going to do something bold and move not to authorize the contract proposal and not authorize the mayor to sign the agreement with High Pointe Management Advisors,” Regis said as he brought the contract to a vote before the full council.

Regis was the first to cast his vote against the proposal with Lord following before Rudolph and Henry voted to support the proposal. However, with Councilmen Ed Stern and Jeff McGinty absent, Quade cast the final and deciding vote, requesting that the council be presented with more options before choosing a facilitator. Quade opened discussion on the issue by stating that after last week’s meeting she had researched facilitators on the Municipal Research and Services Center Web site for possible alternatives for the city to consider.

“I don’t mean to derail the process, but it’s going to be such an important issue to the city not only for 10 years, but 30 or 40 years and we should take the time to make sure we have the best possible fit,” she explained.

One of the things Quade said she sought in her research were firms that had experience in visioning efforts in other cities. She looked at the firms who had worked in Bellingham, Lynnwood and Winslow.

“I googled High Pointe and did not come up with enough information on them,” she said. “If it comes to a vote, I would rather the council slow down a little and look at other visioning facilitators.”

Regis explained that he had quizzed Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Stuart Leidner about the local business community’s concerns about the facilitator earlier in the week.

The apparent problem with the current visioning effort is that it is not community-driven, but rather staff-driven, he said.

Rudolph, who argued last week in favor of proposed facilitator Pat Edwards, said a delay in the process would mean a great loss of momentum in an effort that the city has already begun.

“We can either fire him or be more flexible at our sessions,” Rudolph said, explaining that the facilitator may have learned some lessons from the first couple of visioning meetings.

He added that the first meetings were more instructional to the community about the process and future meetings would be more focused on the actual vision for the city.

“I personally recommend that we make sure all of us understand what we didn’t do well the first time,” he said.

In response to Rudolph’s comments, Lord questioned the sense of urgency in the proposal, which was scheduled to take place between Aug. 17 and Oct. 31.

“I don’t see this is as a crisis, and because we don’t have a crisis I’m in favor of doing this,” Lord said of the motion not to approve the contract.

The community already has the perception that the city backed itself into one facilitator without looking at alternatives, and the council needs to take more time to examine more possibilities, Lord said.

“We don’t have a fire to put out and we have a procedure to follow,” she said. “I can’t support this choice.”

After the vote, Mayor Donna Jean Bruce said the next step is for the community to bring its concerns to the council for consideration in the facilitator selection process.

“I would say get the qualities into the long-range strategic committee, which consists of Dale, Connie, Ed and myself,” Bruce said.

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