Grove City council and administration staffers plan a January retreat to address cooperation and communication.

Grove City council and administration staffers plan a January retreat to address cooperation and communication.

Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said council members and administrative department heads will sit down as a group with a third-party facilitator.

The meeting will be open to the public, but public comment won’t be allowed.

“It’s very healthy and it’s what the community is expecting,” Stage said.

He proposed the retreat to council at its Nov. 21 meeting.

The community is tired of seeing perceived differences between what council is introducing and the administration’s goals, Stage said. He hopes to achieve an open dialogue and air concerns during the retreat.

“All of them are community-driven concerns, not personality-driven,” he said.

He predicts a couple of retreats will be held.

Stage said he knows of no similar retreats since about 2006, when a moderator facilitated communication between administration and council regarding town center revitalization.

A council member should feel comfortable contacting the administration, and the administration likewise should feel comfortable addressing council, Stage said.

“There’s some apprehension,” he admitted

Individual agendas have contributed to communication problems, Stage said.

Council members are “all after the same thing,” said council member Melissa Albright. Still, she said, “we have been perceived to be a divided council” and certain council members have a lack of trust in the administration.

Albright said she wants better communication and cooperation. Council doesn’t do any brainstorming or team-building exercises.

“We do a lot of things in a vacuum,” she said.

Council president Ted Berry said he asked city administrator Phil Honsey about holding a retreat last year. He said he thinks that perhaps the election has created an opportunity to bring everyone together. He said he was pleased with Stage’s suggestion at the council meeting.

Retreats are great as long as they are addressed with an open mind and participants are committed to results, Berry said.