Significant citizen opposition to an already-approved archery range at Lashbrook Park and an already-approved skateboard plaza at Ames Park has surfaced. An April 30 Nfld News editorial ends with this:
“… why does there continue to be opposition each time the plan is invoked and a project is approved by the board? Residents opposing changes in a neighborhood park’s use need to get involved earlier in the process. And, assuming that opposition is most likely to come from those living nearby, maybe the city should more aggressively seek out their input up front.”
Given the considerable public interest in parks, open space, and trails, the Northfield City Council and PRAB placed high value on extensive citizen involvement in the project. Through formal and informal meetings and open houses, individual citizens and advocacy groups had direct access to the consultant team and PRAB on numerous occasions. The comments and suggestions received from these interactions proved very fruitful and greatly influenced the development of the plan.
The “citizen involvement” cited above by the consultants, Brauer & Associates, Ltd., isn’t described in detail but here’s what’s bothering me about it:
- There’s no link to the Parks System Master Plan on the city’s web site Parks page.
- There’s no link to the Parks System Master Plan on the web page for the Parks and Rec Advisory Board (PRAB).
- A search on the city’s website for the phrase “Parks System Master Plan” doesn’t bring it up. Only the Locally Grown Documents page has a link to the Parks System Master Plan.
- A search on the city’s website on the word ‘Lashbrook’ only brings up 2000 Comp plan. A search on the word ‘archery’ brings up nothing.
- I can’t find any report or minutes on the Open House that was held. If City Administator Al Roder wrote about it in one of his Friday memos, I can’t find it.
- Ross blogged the Parks Plan back in January. No one from the city staff or Parks and Rec Advisory Board (PRAB) participated.
- Who are the city staff most involved with Parks that a citizen could email or phone? The city’s web site offers zilch.
I moderated a two-week online forum on the Parks Master Plan in the fall of 1997 and another on the Trails Master Plan in 1998. So here we are, a decade later, and our civic leaders and their consultants are barely using the technology that pervades our lives to ‘engage the citizenry’ on important public policy issues like the Parks plan.
Other than the one open house, I don’t know the specifics on all the “extensive citizen involvement” that was done. But when it comes to online engagement, I’d have to give our civic leaders a big fat ‘F.’