Barlow Town Hall meeting draws huge crowd
Barlow - Bringing the community's residents together for an open conversation focusing on citizen's needs and wants was the focus of a recent Town Hall meeting held in Barlow.
Tad Long and Bobbie Bryant, Community Development Advisors from the Kentucky League of Cities, led the meeting in which the entire 42024 community had been invited as a result of an August 14th call meeting of the Barlow City Commission wherein discussion centered on opportunities Barlow has for potential growth and some of the limitations that may be holding the community back.
Long had suggested that by focusing first on what citizens need and want, the city will set a solid foundation for moving the community forward.
Nearly 70 residents attended the interactive meeting, where everyone was encouraged to voice his/her opinion and participate in a design session meant to help residents share their ideas.
The first part of the meeting engaged attendees in a "listening session" where residents contributed to the formation of a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). The analysis was to provide a perspective through the lens of the people who live in and care about the community. "You will give us a blueprint for your plan," said Long. "Your plan belongs to you. Positive change and moving forward involves you."
Long pointed to other communities comparable in size to Barlow that have been in the same situation as Barlow and have developed strategic plans to change their towns. He said, "The answers are in the community."
Long asked what the residents felt 42024 Barlow sets them apart from other communities or places and what is valued most about the area. Some answers included safety, history, hometown values, and proximity to other places. Also included were: people, children, neighbors, churches, and the small-town feel.
In discussing weaknesses, several ideas were listed. Some issues included: lack of grocery stores, banks, and gas stations; needed improvements to roads and sidewalks; and the need for the community to come together to help those in need.
Some opportunities listed in the analysis included a long list of ides including: doing something with the old school, having better signage, filling up empty houses, capitalizing on hunting and fishing, having a trailhead for the Wildlife Management Area, and having ATV rentals.
Possible threats to Barlow's strategic plan included the aging population, lack of activities for the youth, the exodus of youth from the community, and the lack of solidarity.
Following the "listening" portion of the meeting, Long and Bryant engaged attendees in a design session where residents got a hands-on say in what they want for Barlow.
"Show us in picture and words what this town could look like," Long said.
Armed with a map of the area, eleven groups formed to come up with proposed ideas for growing the community. Each group then presented its ideas to the entire crowd.
Long said he and Bryant will compile all of the proposed ideas and compose a first draft of a strategic plan for the City of Barlow. Long said he would also meet with high school students to get their input in order "to see what they want".
On October 21st, Long and Bryant will come back for another meeting to present the first draft of Barlow's plan. At that time, Long said, "We'll ask: did we get it right."