COLUMBIA — Concerns over the proposed Community Development Department merger were expressed in an informal work session Tuesday afternoon.
Don Stamper, executive director of the Central Missouri Development Council, requested the work session to discuss details and concerns of the merger between the Office of Neighborhood Services, the Building and Site Development Division and the Planning and Development Department. Tim Teddy will head the new department, and John Glascock is the director of the Public Works Department, which houses the Building and Site Development Division.
Both Teddy and Glascock were receptive to suggestions and encouraged future meetings as the details of the merger get ironed out.
The main concern expressed at the work session, which was attended both city employees and Columbia residents, was whether a “one-stop shop” approach is plausible when the Water and Light Department and the Columbia Fire Department will not be part of the Community and Development Department.
Some attendees commented that if the city is truly going to achieve a “one-stop shop,” Teddy and his staff must have some override power over the Water and Light Department and the fire department. Others expressed past frustrations with both departments saying that, on numerous occasions, development plans have had substantial time lags due to failure of both the Water and Light Department and the fire department to stay on schedule.
Teddy agreed that both departments must collaborate with developers and his staff in order to get projects finished on time. He said that if either of the departments do not get plans back to project managers in a timely manner, Teddy’s department and staff will be notified and take control.
Others were concerned about when the merger would place, and how the office, division and department would be affected during the transition from three separate branches to one department.
Teddy said the transition will take time and patience. He emphasized that before the merger can take effect, there must be changes in ordinances and codes. Teddy said the merger takes effect Oct. 1 but may not be complete until January.
He also said the transition will come in phases. The first part of the transition will include using the third floor of the Daniel Boone Building as a service center. The second phase will include having the entire fifth floor as the main operations location, Teddy said. Staff from Neighborhood Services, Site and Development Division and Planning and Development Department will all be housed in the Daniel Boone City Building.
The general consensus of the work session was that the merger is a good idea, but that it is just an idea. Most commented that the success of the merger is in the details and are excited to see how the “one-stop shop” approach will play out.
“We are interested in this. It’s reinventing government,” Stamper said. “We’d like it if the end result matches the discussions.”
Others made jokes that Teddy will be “under a fine-toothed comb” during the transition of the merger. Most were understanding of the fact that the merger will take time, patience and work on both Teddy’s part as well as the developers’ parts.
“They’ve got a lot of work to do,” Stamper said.