Housing a critical part of plan to foster growth.

Folks on the front line of local government got together recently to brainstorm.

As part of an annual goal-setting retreat, members of the Garden City Commission along with others seeking to sit on the board recently met with city officials to share thoughts on Garden City's future.

They addressed topics as part of a quest to establish goals for commission consideration, and in doing so pushed a couple of items to the top of the list.

Not surprisingly, one priority was the new retail development. The project featuring Menards as an anchor store with other yet-to-be-announced retail outlets will require much attention in a city intent on improving its position as a regional shopping destination.

A new convention center also was ranked as a high priority.

While Garden City has a number of nice venues for events, it lacks a sizable convention center required for bigger gatherings. A modern convention center and indoor entertainment facility would help lure more events and visitors.

Discussion also touched on such public facilities goals as trails and sidewalks; a shooting range; public art; entryway electronic message boards; and brick streets.

A desire to maintain relationships as part of the Southwest Kansas Coalition and water issues fell under "regionalism" goals.

Development-related goals focused on infrastructure related to industry and growth; an eastern bypass; and a marketing plan for retail sites.

Also under that category and arguably the city's most pressing issue was housing.

City commissioners and other officials have an obligation to make sure people interested in Garden City can find a place to live.

While the city has made strides with strategies to spur new housing projects, there's more to do in addressing the shortage of affordable housing and stagnant construction that have plagued the community.

As for the top two goals discussed during the recent retreat, a common theme was the pursuit of ways to bring more people to town to shop and play.

Making sure anyone considering Garden City as a permanent destination can find a place to live must remain high on the list, as well.