Havelock officials are seeking input from residents on where they want the city to go in the future.


Havelock officials are seeking input from residents on where they want the city to go in the future.



A Community Strategic Planning Summit has been scheduled from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Institute of Aeronautical Technology at the Havelock campus of Craven Community College.



The new Citizen Steering Committee on Economic Development is holding the meeting, which is designed to bring people together and solicit ideas and solutions to four challenge areas identified by the committee. Those areas include reductions in base personnel, decline in neighborhoods, diversification, and quality of life.



At the meeting, one table will be set up for each concern area, but a fifth table will be added for other concerns raised by residents.



Diane Miller, spokeswoman for the city of Havelock, said participants would assess the risk that each challenge poses to Havelock, assess the impact of the worst-case scenario, and define the city’s assets and strengths in the face of the challenges.



"If we provide the avenue for the citizens and the citizens participate then they are very much truly involved with our community, and we very much need to include their input," Havelock City Manager Jim Freeman said.



Freeman said Havelock is considered somewhat of a transient community in that young Marines get stationed at Cherry Point for two or three years before leaving. However, he said Havelock is also known as a place where Marines and veterans come to live during retirement.



"That’s part of the challenge here," he said. "On the one hand, you’ve got some that may be here for only a few years so maybe they won’t participate, but then there may be some that want to come back and maybe retire here. ‘Hey, this may be an opportunity that my little say can make a difference when I come back.’"



Freeman said city leaders hear from a core group of real estate leaders, educators, retired base managers and other business leaders, but that group may have neglected to consider key angles or factors that are part of Havelock’s future. He said the meeting would serve as an opportunity for people who normally don’t engage with the city to come out, voice their opinions and take charge.



"We may have missed it at the four tables," Freeman said. "We really want to get down to the root of our problems."



The wheels of government are slow to move, but that change always starts with new ideas, Freeman said.



"It does take time but you’ve got to plant seeds," he said.



Freeman said the summit was one of a three-part economic development effort the city is undertaking.



The city had an internal economic development study performed over the last several months by the firm Davenport Lawrence, and the city is also engaged in talks with the managers of New Bern and Craven County on the future of economic development.



Comments from the summit will be gathered and presented to the Havelock Board of Commissioners at a future meeting.