ANTIOCH -- Residents here will have several chances in the upcoming week to share their thoughts and desires about the future direction of the city.

Antioch is hosting a series of informal brainstorming sessions called "Community Cafes" starting Thursday to help prioritize issues officials need to work on moving forward.

"This is the road map that is going to take us into the future," Mayor Wade Harper said. "We want to hear from the community and get buy in."

The City Council has been working over the past year in team building with hired consultant Stacey McLaughlin, an organizational development trainer with Mountaintop Insight.

The meetings, which are centered around small groups sitting at tables, are not meant to identify what is wrong with the city but rather move the conversation forward.

"It's about solution finding instead of problem identification," McLaughlin said. "The community can do a whole lot if it is in touch with itself."

The intimate setting at the cafes is meant to build up community, as oftentimes residents act as if there is "an imaginary line" between them and elected officials, she said.

"If you feel like you can talk to me at City Hall and I can talk to you, then we can actually start to get something accomplished," McLaughlin said.

With new City Manager Steve Duran taking the helm earlier this month, property taxes and the economy improving, and the city on the cusp of annexing 678 acres of land with economic potential to its northeast, city leaders say the time is right to look ahead.

"It's perfect timing," Harper said.

Creating a strategic plan based on the community's desires will help hold Antioch's elected leaders accountable, he said.

One area that the forum will look at is how the city can or should partner with other community groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, school district and other civic activists.

Meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Saturday at Prewett Water Park's community room, 4701 Lone Tree Way. The other two will be held 6:30 p.m. Jan. 27 and 29 at Nick Rodriguez Community Center, 213 F St.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.

COFFEE TALK
Antioch is hosting a series of Community Cafes, or public meetings, later this month. Here are the dates and locations:
  • 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23 and 10 a.m. Jan. 25, Prewett Water Park Community Room, 4701 Lone Tree Way.
  • 6:30 p.m. Jan. 27 and Jan. 29, Nick Rodriguez Community Center, 213 F St.
    The city requests an RSVP for the meetings. For more information, email antiochcafe@ci.antioch.ca.us.