“Talk is cheap. All I ask you is to judge me by my actions.”

Those were the words City Manager Troy Powell used as he addressed one of what could become a series of community outreach meetings in town neighborhoods.

The Tuesday night meeting resulted in around 15 major concerns from residents living “west of the tracks” in one of Claremore’s oldest residential areas.

In an open forum, individuals addressed the the city manager and Operations Director Matt Mueller (the only two city representatives in attendance) and identified issues they see as important to the long term survival of their neighborhood.

While the city has already revamped personnel and resources to address ongoing code enforcement issues such as tall grass and trash in yards, larger problems such as drainage and flooding will take time and action on the part of City Hall.

Powell told the group, “I’m here to listen to concerns and take them back and develop an action plan.”

Powell left the meeting with his assignments: Lack of trust between neighborhood residents and the Police Department, drainage and flooding, availability of funding (including grants) for community improvement projects, housing, zoning, homeless shelters, insects and bugs, youth activities, promotion of cultural diversity citywide and drug activity.

The Rev. Rodger Cutler, pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church at 805 N. Oseuma, said Tuesday night’s meeting should not be “the last as we begin the process uniting in our community.”

“If we don’t strive to make our city better, who will?”

Cutler said.

The church leader became pastor of the Claremore church in 2003. Mt. Zion is located in what some attending Tuesday night’s meeting referred to as a one of two “pockets” of the shrinking black population in Claremore.

A recent move to rezone an older church location at the corner of 4th Street and Oseuma Street has brought a renewed effort among residents in the seven-block area to not only protect what little residential neighborhood they have left but also to improve and reunite with the community at large.

But, Cutler said he does not see it as “a black and white issue.” He sees other neighborhoods around the city in need of uniting with the larger community.

Cutler, as well as resident Vivian Boyles pointed out the town’s growing Hispanic population, older residential areas where senior citizens live, as well as those with lower incomes.

“We live in the fastest growing city in the state,” Cutler said. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be a great city, not just a good, average city, but a great city.”

Going from good to great will require “relationship building,” Cutler said. Tuesday’s meeting is just the first step.

Cutler said some of the issues raised are not just “about this section of town.” Plans are to identify a task force comprised of “not just black faces” but a task force that crosses ethnic as well as economic lines.

The Task Force would focus on social growth issues in the city.