Dear Lynn, thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my thoughts concerning these questions. It has helped me clarify my views. While being on the city council would be a new experience for me, I am eager to learn and dedicated to hard work. Thank you for the mental exercise! Highest regards, Blake.
Blake Ceverings responses to questions
Q1. Please discuss the value you attach to the following places and events in North Ogden: North Shore Aquatic Center, City Parks, Cherry Days, Chalk Art Festival, AYSO, N.O. Limits Half Marathon, Sr. Citizens Center.
North Shore: While I do not use the aquatic center myself, my children have benefited because of their employment at the pool. Two of my sons received their lifeguard certification and worked at the pool, in fact, one son is currently employed there as an assistant manager. Many youth have learned life-saving skills, discipline, financial skills, management skills and social skills as employees of North Shore that will benefit them for a lifetime. While the pool may not be profitable in financial terms, it has been an incredible venue to develop working habits of the youth and promoting stronger family relationships. I do not think that the “bottom line” is the only way to evaluate the success of a venue.
City Parks/AYSO/Amphitheater: I believe that the city parks provide an opportunity for strengthening the family and developing our youth. Anyone who has ever played/coaches on a little league athletic team knows the benefit each young person has to develop discipline, character, athletic skills and team building skills. The amphitheater will continue to allow youth and adults to develop singing and acting skills. I believe that the parks/AYSO teams are foundational for the growth of youth….especially helping them develop confidence.
Cherry Days: It is an awesome tradition that dates back to the earlier days of North Ogden. I have many fond memories of the parade and activities at North Ogden Park. This event, like the marathon and Chalk Art Festival, are venues to strengthen community relations. The only thing that concerns me about Cherry Days is it has become very commercial.
Senior Citizen Center: I believe that we owe the “older generation” of North Ogden the right to have a center that provides social and recreational opportunities. These individuals have sacrificed for their families, local schools, their religion, the community…they deserve our highest respect and a place to call their “own.”
Q2. The North Ogden Plaza(Kings and Kirt’s Family Drive Inn) has the potential for growth which would benefit the city economically. Are you in favor of promoting more/better businesses? If you are, how would you promote the growth?
I am very much in favor of promoting more business in North Ogden. The revenue for the city is vital. New businesses also provide additional employment opportunities, however, I think we need to attract the right kind of businesses that will complement the demographics of North Ogden. A company by the name of “Mindecology.com” specializes in helping cities attract business. They suggest a simple three-point process: 1) develop a profile of your city or town;2)identify businesses that complement the needs of the demographics; 3) solicit these companies for a location to North Ogden. I would suggest that this kind of “targeting” will produce positive results. North Ogden is a small community. Our population can only sustain a limited amount of commercial establishments. We need the RIGHT businesses in North Ogden.
Q3. The city purchased Barker Park many years ago. A large part of the park remains undeveloped. What would you do with the undeveloped land? If there is a cost involved to implement your plan, how would you pay for it?
The American Planning Association (planning.org) suggests five benefits for parks: 1) Property values are positively affected; 2) Municipal revenues are increased; 3) Affluent citizens are attracted and retained; 4) “Knowledge workers” men/women who are employed to sell their knowledge as opposed to labor, are 33% more apt to buy homes in areas that have more recreational opportunities; 5) Home buyers want open space (in a 2001 survey by the National Association of Realtors, 57% of voters would choose to buy homes close to parks and open space). Investing in parks by cities is vital to property tax revenue. Cities cannot afford NOT to create parks. So how do we pay for it? I believe a partnership between municipalities and private business is one viable option. We have an excellent example of this in Wadman park. I think we might be surprised how many private companies would be willing to assist in the creation of local parks.
Q4. Employee costs are rising each year. how do you plan to deal with this issue?
All of us are being subject to rising living expenses, the employees of North Ogden are no different. Adequate compensation is one factor that keeps great employees. However, we need to ensure that North Ogden has enough employees without having too many employees. We need to be lean, yet avoid deficiencies in service. I am a fan of employee accountability and improvement. I would encourage annual reviews of employees/teams and complementary cost of living allowances based on accomplishments. I would be the first to be an advocate of tax increase for COLA’s employees who are working hard.
Q5. The city does not have adequate funding to repair, replace and maintain city assets including water, sewer, and storm drain lines, water meter equipment, vehicles and buildings. How will you deal with this issue?
I believe in saving. I believe in being cautious with money, mine and the money of other people. For me, the widow’s mite has a broader application than just religious circles. I am a big advocate for saving for a rainy day. However, large savings accounts may not exist, yet, we need to have adequate infrastructure. Because of this, I believe that bonding might be an option…but an option that is paid off as quickly as possible. In saying that, I also believe in being very transparent with citizens so they know what challenges the city faces with inadequate infrastructure. When people see and understand the need, they feel ownership. They may not want to bond or have a raise in taxes…but it is the reality.
Q6. What would you like to accomplish while serving on the city council?
I have always been impressed with a comment from John Adams, second President of the United States. he said: “The happiness of the people was the purpose of government and therefore, that form of government was best which produced the greatest amount of happiness for the largest number.” It will be impossible for any government to make each and every citizen happy with decisions that are rendered. In fact, it would be crazy to believe that you could. But, one goal for me would be to treat people with respect and kindness. At the close of my tenure(if elected), I would like to say that I did my best to create happiness for as many North Ogden citizens as possible. To my best ability. I want “unity in our community.”
Q7. What are the issues that you think need to be addressed in the city?
- Crime. ( I would encourage the creation of neighborhood watch groups.)
- Making sure the city has a very ADEQUATE savings account for infrastructure needs.
- Housing development/Commercial growth.
- Continue developing positive rapport between the city and local businesses.
Q8. How have you already been volunteering or serving in the city?
I began volunteering with the city (nearly two years ago) when I was invited by Mayor Taylor to serve on the Economic Development Committee. As part of that committee, I assisted in the development of our business summit, which I believe was very successful in developing a stronger relationship between business owners in North Ogden and city officials and staff. When a vacancy occurred on the Planning Commission, I was encouraged to submit an application. After a face to face interview with the mayor, I was appointed to the commission and have been serving for about six months.
Q9. If you are not elected, what would you do to try to help work on ideas or issues that are important to you?
I will continue to serve on the Planning Commission and seek to assist the city council as they guide and direct the future of North Ogden. I will enforce the vision found in the general plan of North Ogden. I would also really like to see Barker Park up and functioning as a successful venue for the citizens of North Ogden.