But they didn’t attend a council nor school board meeting.
Rather, they gathered at Berardi’s Restaurant to hear ideas, such as Huron’s plan to both retain and bring in residents and businesses. The first Coffee Connections, hosted by Huron Schools superintendent Dennis Muratori and city manager Andy White, served as a launching pad for future collaborative efforts between both organizations. Ideally, the two organizations will partner together on projects and purchase orders in hopes of becoming more efficient and reducing taxpayer costs.
On Saturday, however, the forum acted as a place where residents felt more comfortable asking questions to officials away from a government building.
A back-and-forth dialogue between residents and the two officials occurred for the next 90 minutes.
Among the most noteworthy questions asked by residents and answered by both Muratori and White:
Q: Does Huron have a theme of what officials want the city to look like 15 years from now?
A: Huron’s theme for transforming and revitalizing the city centers on connectivity to the waterfront, White said.
In summer 2012, city officials debuted Huron’s $9 million master plan.
The decade-long undertaking aims to lure businesses and residents to Huron by linking several core city landmarks, parks and neighborhoods while highlighting waterfront features.
The former ConAgra property, which includes 10 acres of prime waterfront real estate, acts as the centerpiece to Huron’s rejuvenation.
Officials said they could sculpt the property into whatever a prospective developer would want, including a shopping or retail center, condominiums or a corporate park.
“We have to have that blueprint in place and recognize none of us will be here forever,” White said. We have to leave a legacy.”
As far as schools, bustling development at ConAgra — which should entice other projects throughout Huron as well — could attract more people and families to move into the city, increasing both enrollment numbers and property taxes to fund local education, Muratori said.
“We want to draw families here that share the same values people have here in our community,” Muratori said.
Q: It’s dangerous walking and riding bicycles on Ohio 13. Will city officials make any improvements to make this corridor safer?
A: White said it’s “ridiculous” how no sidewalk exists on a busy street in Huron.
But a plan’s in place to make the area safer. “There will be a sidewalk installed in 2014,” said White, referencing the area between U.S. 6 and Thunderbird Hills Golf Club.