Youth provide input about community

JESSICA GREGORY:::

Roughly 20 young community members gave their feedback to local officials and members of the Griffin Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee regarding the community as they see it on Thursday, June 6 at Safehouse Coffee Roasters.

Youth ages 13-21 were encouraged to attend to share their favorite place in the community; the worst place in their community and some problems they would fix if they were mayor, among other things.

According to Aronda Smith, the Three Rivers Regional Commission representative compiling the Comprehensive Plan for the city, favorite places in the community included the movie theatre, playground, and police department. One person listed that there were no good places in their community other than his church. The worst places in the community listed were the skating rink, basketball court, apartment complex, Spalding Heights and the streets.

Smith said this information confirms some of the community threats already identified by the steering committee, and can be used to hone in on some more specific goals.

“That this person listed the basketball court tells me maybe the parks don’t have all the resources they need,” Smith said. “The mention of the apartment complex, the streets, and Spalding Heights being the worst places confirms that we have substandard housing in the city.

“They basically wanted to see Griffin be a cleaner community,” Smith said. “They want a community center, more activities and programs for youth including musical opportunities, and more role models. Some talked about peer pressure and bullying.”

Smith said that while this information won’t necessarily be directly worked into the comprehensive plan, as the plan is more about land use and paints broader goals, Smith said that the city could use this information to implement a youth involvement plan.

The city can choose to continue to have those types of meetings,” Smith said. “The city and committee have to be willing to do that. I would recommend that they have a youth involvement meeting annually as a strategy to get input from the youth.”

Smith said the youth involvement meeting came about due to the steering committee identifying the improvement of youth activities as a goal for the next 20 years, and went on to say that she recommends the city consider creating a youth master plan, which would be completely separate from the comprehensive plan, and more detailed to highlight the problems directly related to youth.

City Manager Kenny Smith, who was present at the meeting, said “[the meeting] gave us a different perspective of how the youth perceive the city and what they would like to see happen for not only the future but now… A ‘Youth Master Plan’ is a great idea, but all plans for the future should involve youth as any plan that reaches more than 10 years out – a 13-year-old now will be 23.”

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