Starting July 11, the new AMATS Public Participation Plan will be available for public review and comment for 45 days. The draft plan details the agency’s community outreach strategies for its various activities and products in the transportation planning process.
The draft plan builds on the momentum of the agency’s ongoing outreach initiatives by embracing the use of social media and outlining new methods to encourage civic dialogue. AMATS Planning Coordinator Krista Beniston says that the agency is trying to be more transparent and increase opportunities for the public to become involved. These efforts by the agency include slight revamps of its web site – amatsplanning.org – and the launch of an entirely new web site devoted to the cycling community – switching-gears.org. Beniston hints that additional efforts may be on the horizon.
“We decided to try new outreach methods to engage a wider audience, such as when we worked on our recent 2012 Bike Plan and our various cycling initiatives. These efforts gave us some leeway to test new ideas and see which ones worked,” Beniston says.
During development of the 2012 Bike Plan, the agency made extensive use of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and several community-oriented web sites to promote public awareness regarding development of the plan. The agency hosted several open house meetings throughout the Greater Akron area and sponsored an event which was truly unique in AMATS’ 50-year history: a “Bike-N-Brainstorm” session at Akron’s Hardesty Park. The session included a group bike ride along Akron’s West Market Street followed by an informal group discussion regarding how to improve the street for cycle travel.
“We plan to host more informal events like that. We feel that it’s time to try new approaches to spur public dialogue and feedback,” Beniston explains. The updated plan also freshens many of the agency’s traditional methods to seek public comment. For example, comment forms regarding draft reports and products - such as the draft Public Participation Plan - are now available online for submittal by email rather than only as hard copies at meeting and office locations.
One aspect that hasn’t changed under the new Public Participation Plan is that there will be ample opportunity for public comment. The draft plan is available for public review at the following locations until Friday, Aug. 24:
- The AMATS website – amatsplanning.org
- The AMATS office located at 806 CitiCenter, 146 S. High Street in downtown Akron
To find out more about the Public Participation Plan and to share your insights about this draft item, please visit us on Twitter and Facebook. The draft plan and a comment form are also available on Patch! Your input will help us craft a better plan.
AMATS is the regional transportation planning agency serving the Greater Akron area of Summit County, Portage County, and Chippewa Township in Wayne County. Please feel free to visit our agency’s web site at www.amatsplanning.org.