A new team has been created within the City of Plant City that will aim to come up with creative ideas to solving longstanding problems around the community.
The City of Plant City is putting together a CARES team that will focus on bringing innovative and unique solutions to issues around the city.
City Manager Bill McDaniel said the group is something he’s wanted to create for some time. The team, whose name stands for Creativity, Action, Research, Expertise, Solutions, will attempt to find answers to various quality-of-life issues and challenges around the community.
“I’m excited about it and excited about getting some out-of-the-box thinking about addressing some of those longstanding issues,” McDaniel said. “We often come at these problems with a ‘seat-of-your-pants solution’ and I want to get creative and do some research on other alternatives that might offer not just more effective results, but fresh alternatives to methods we have employed before.”
While the team itself is just getting started, the line of thinking employed by the group is one several in the city have used for years. From a focus on a creative alternative to traditional solutions, ideas like getting fitness equipment around walking trails at local parks were born. This thinking also led to the creation of the Downtown Strike Team, which has transformed downtown Plant City into a well-cared for and pristine section in the community in a short period of time.
McDaniel said many involved in the CARES team had been involved in some of the city’s past success stories, like the formation of the Downtown Strike Team and the park equipment. The group has members from all corners of the city including Parks & Recreation, PCPD, Code Enforcement and other general departments. Parks & Recreation Director Jack Holland is steering the group, but McDaniel said the rest of upper management has “kind of been kicked out of the room” so the rest of the staff will have the freedom and flexibility to explore their ideas without the pressure of having to pitch every thought and suggestion to their boss.
Creativity and research are expected to go hand-in-hand with the group and McDaniel said he anticipates much of what they bring to the table to be steeped in thorough research in similar projects across the country. Some methods of operating around the city are textbook and there’s no reason to alter them. Others could use some improvement and McDaniel said he hopes the CARES team acts as a breath of fresh air for the city and will help to find new methods of tackling longstanding problems.
“It can be an issue as simple as signage for our parks,” McDaniel said. “You don’t want to just put up a sign that says ‘Dog Park.’ You need a cohesive brand. That’s a quick thing we wanted to focus on and the team decided that in instances where the park wasn’t named after someone, we would name it after the area it is located in. So the dog park will be ‘Gilchrist Heights Dog Park.’ They also want to focus on a lot of the problems we have with our public restrooms. They’re being misused, damaged and there’s issues with their general management, so we need to come up with some good solutions. This is a team now that will have the time to come up with some creative, but researched, ideas we can begin to implement.”