Fairfield strategic plan nears completion

The Strategic Plan Committee met Tuesday to review last week's subject matter expert working sessions.

The Strategic Plan Committee met Tuesday to review last week’s subject matter expert working sessions.

Rachel Scharf / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — After over two years of work, the Strategic Plan Committee is getting closer to having a final report ready to present to the Board of Selectmen.

Most recently, the committee held expert working sessions that helped them gain insight into some key issues facing the town.

The group was formed in 2017 with the goal of creating a guide for Fairfield’s next 10 to 20 years. While this is the town’s first attempt at formulating such a plan, it is typical for towns to construct reports that define plans and guide actions for the future.

The committee held seven expert working sessions last week covering key topics in the plan: governance, economic development, education, community programs, town branding, goals and town zoning, design, infrastructure and transportation.

These were issues identified in the committee’s April summary of outreach efforts, which engaged over 2,000 residents via interviews, questionnaires and workshops.

The sessions, which featured experts in each topic from both within and outside the Fairfield community, were administered by consultants from Houseal Lavigne Associates. The consultants are now reviewing the sessions and will come back to the committee with analyses and suggestions garnered from them.

According to Committee Chair John Wynne, all the sessions featured active discussions and engaged participants.

Vice Chair Jay Gross said the importance of communication came up in every session, with many experts emphasizing the importance of various arms of government communicating with both each other and the community.

Wynne noted the education session was especially fruitful, with former Interim Superintendent Stephen Tracy, new Superintendent Mike Cummings, multiple Board of Education members and a representative from Fairfield University coming together to discuss Fairfield’s school system and students’ college preparedness.

The governance session was also notable, with experts discussing the town’s current model of government and whether it should consider alternative forms. In looking at research and trends, some experts suggested a town of Fairfield’s size should consider switching from an RTM/Selectmen model to a Town Council/Mayor model, which is more common for larger municipalities.

While the committee had originally planned to be ready to present its report this month, it is now looking to be finished by the end of fall.

“When we started out on this we would have liked to be finished right about now,” Wynne said. “But because of the way we’ve engaged with community outreach, things have slipped a bit.”

When it is ready, the committee will present the final report to the Board of Selectmen, who will vote on whether to enact it.