Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry stressed transparency and greater access for the community during his State of the City address.
The mayor Tuesday told a gathering at City Hall that economic development efforts the past year are working and he hopes to continue that into the future. Henry says Carbondale is making it easier for businesses to locate in the city thanks to streamlined permitting processes and assistance from city staff.
"We actually did a survey that we sent if somebody came into planning or our engineering departments, handed them the survey and asked them to return them anonymously to the manager's office. We're doing really good. This management study is going to show that also."
To piggyback on the success of the Coffee With A Cop program, Mayor Henry says he, City Manager Gary Williams and a City Council member will start holding morning meetings with the public in an informal setting.
"Not everybody can come to the council meetings or has an interest in doing it. But, I find lots and lots of people have a question they would like to ask and sometimes it's something that's been bothering them for a long time. We get the answers and try to straighten it out if it's an issue."
Mayor Henry says the morning meetings will start sometime in January and will be held each month.
He says Carbondale also has an advantage as a university community. Henry says he and interim SIU-C Chancellor Brad Colwell are making a concerted effort to build a strong bond because what's good for the city is good for the university...and vice versa.
"We just have to start building these small relationships, as simple as riding in the Lights Fantastic Parade together, and just have ways that you can get together with folks, sit down over coffee, or lunch, without an agenda, and just talk."
Henry says another area of emphasis is improving the relationship between residents and the Carbondale Police Department. The mayor says community policing is paying off in that regard.
"It is breaking down some of those barriers and getting people to be more comfortable with going to the police department and saying, 'Look, I think there's so and so going on here.' That's what we need. If you see it, report it."