Published in the January 28, 2020 edition.


WAKEFIELD — The Town Council wants to develop a “Vision and Values Statement” to guide the town’s goals and budget priorities going forward.

Town Councilor Jonathan Chines presented a framework last night for the creation of a Vision and Values Statement. Such a statement, he said, would provide a foundation from which the town could develop more clearly articulated strategic goals and budget priorities. It would be a guide for evaluating competing priorities and making appropriate trade-offs.

Chines proposed creating a Vision and Values statement that would be re-evaluated every three or four years and inform an annual updating of the town’s strategic goals. The Vision and Values Statement would also serve as a guide for the Town Council when evaluating the Town Administrator’s performance as well as the goals and performance of key town department heads, Chines said.

He shared a sample Vision and Values statement from the town of Ashland. He also cited the vision, mission and core values statements of the Wakefield Public Schools as another example of the type of document he envisioned.

Chines proposed a process for establishing a Vision and Values Statement for Wakefield.

He suggested soliciting feedback from the public, town employees and other stakeholders via online and paper surveys, similar to the transit survey that the town conducted last summer. The survey could be promoted via social media, the town’s website, kiosk messages, the Wakefield Daily Item, etc.

He also recommended providing an opportunity for citizens to offer feedback at a public brainstorming session with exercises to prompt discussion among attendees. Ideas could be collected in writing, followed by public review and discussion of written comments provided.

Chines offered some potential focus questions for the survey and brainstorming session:

• Why did you choose to live or work in Wakefield? Why would you recommend Wakefield to others?

• What makes Wakefield special?

• What are we known for outside of our community?

• What do you want Wakefield to be known for in 20 years?

• What do you want Wakefield to look like in 20 years?

• What do you see as the most significant challenges facing Wakefield, now or in the future?

• How would you like to see Wakefield address those challenges?

• What are the key values you would like to see reflected in Wakefield’s town government?

After that, he envisioned forming a committee to collect ideas generated through survey and brainstorming session, and drafting one or two alternative statements. He suggested creating a 14-member committee, including two representatives from the Town Council; one representative each from the School Committee, Planning Board, Board of Health, Finance Committee, Cultural Council, Human Rights Commission, Council on Aging, and Historical Commission; one representative each from the Chamber of Commerce and Council of Churches; and the Town Administrator, Communications Manager, and other town staff as needed.

Once drafted, the alternative statements would be presented to the Town Council for discussion, followed by a one-month public comment period. Chines suggested making the alternatives available for review on the town website, Beebe Library, Town Hall, the Senior Center, etc. and promoting it via social media, the town website, kiosk messages, the Daily Item, etc.

A final vote by the Town Council for approval and publication of the Vision and values Statement would come after a public comment period. He suggested a process to review and potentially revise the Vision and Values Statement every three to four years.

Chines outlined a possible schedule for getting the process moving.

He called for developing the online and paper-based surveys within the next two to three weeks and then scheduling a public brainstorming session. The Town Council would then identify representatives for committee that to draft alternative statements with a goal of completing the development process and secure Town Council approval by April or May.

Town Councilors were generally receptive to the idea but did offer some suggestions.

Councilor Mehreen Butt suggested that the survey questions should offer multiple choices as responses rather than asking open-ended questions that would be more difficult to quantify.

Councilor Paul DiNocco felt that a completion date of April or May was too soon. He said that he would prefer to extend it to the fall in order to gather more public input.

Town Councilor Ann Santos agreed that April/May seemed too ambitious for the completion of the process. She also suggested that the process should include looking at best practices in other communities, noting that there was no need to reinvent the wheel. She also stressed that a short and pithy vision statement would be most effective.

Chairman Edward Dombroski cautioned that too large a committee could prove unwieldy. He suggested an open participation process but a smaller committee.

No formal vote was taken on the matter, but Dombroski asked for a “straw poll” to get the feeling of the board. All seven members indicated a willingness to set the process in motion.

Chines said that he would work with Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio and the town’s Communications Manager Jennifer McDonald to start the ball rolling.