Tahlequah citizens gathered downtown at The Drip early Tuesday morning to meet with the mayor over a cup of coffee and discuss ideas and projects.

Coffee Cup Conversations with Mayor Sue Catron kicked off with questions and concerns residents brought to her attention by area residents.

"The intent of the Coffee Cup conversations is to give our residents the opportunity to bring their interests and concerns forward, as well as to weigh in on issues that may be impacting the community," said Catron.

She said one of those concerns focused on street lights that are too bright, or placed in such a way that cause a problem for night drivers.

"Talking about lights, one participant said our Police Department needs better lighting and signage so they can be found more easily after dark," said Catron. "There is also an interest in making downtown brighter, and there was a question about whether existing lighting could be modified."

Directional signage was discussed by participants and the mayor. Catron said signs could help visitors find their way from downtown to the various highways and other attractions.

"That led to specific requests for better directional signage to the high school and junior high at Moccasin and to our medical facilities at the bypass and at Downing," she said.

Cherokee County Emergency Management Director Mike Underwood dropped by earlier to address issues he encountered during the storm Friday, Jan. 10.

"He answered questions the group had about the weather event last Friday and explained how the sirens were deployed and factors that influenced that decision," said Catron.

Another concern brought to the mayor's attention was the splash pad parking lot being used for adjacent businesses. Catron said the city may need to consider ways to meet parking needs and protect youngsters before the warm season starts back up.

Catron believes the first in this series of community meetings was a success.

"I thought today's gathering went very well. I got to meet some thoughtful individuals who want Tahlequah to progress," said Catron. "There were some good ideas, and solutions suggested to accompany the concerns voiced."

The mayor said a housing developer was on hand, and the group talked about "infill building" in the city's older neighborhoods. The discussion over zoning and ideas on how to expedite the permit and inspection process was shared among those in attendance.

"In short, it was a lot like a family gathered around the dining table. We bounced from topic to topic; it was casual and fun, and I learned a lot," said Catron.

You're invited

Coffee Cup Conversations will take place on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month from 8:30 to 10 a.m. The next event will be Jan. 28 at Out West Café. The Feb. 11 gathering will be at Bryant's Daylight Donuts; Feb. 25's will be at Sunrise Donuts; the March 10 event will be at Kawi Café; and March 24's installment will be at Morgan's Bakery.

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