Share Your Input on Enhancing Public Engagement Step 1 of 3 33% This online feedback form closes on September 13. Public Engagement in Arlington Arlington County is a place where people are passionate about their community and committed to enhancing policies and programs. With a community of 220,000 residents and an equal number of people who work here every day, our government is constantly planning for our future, creating new programs, and advancing hundreds of capital projects. Examples of capital projects include transportation maintenance, park improvements, and development of new County-owned facilities. Gathering Insights on Engagement for Capital Projects Over the past four months, the Arlington County Engagement team has been actively meeting with community leaders to gather their insights about how they view the public engagement process for Arlington County Government (ACG) capital projects and explore opportunities to improve efforts moving forward. In addition, the team held sessions with ACG planners, engineers, leadership teams, and County Board members to explore challenges and successes in past engagement strategies. These four key themes emerged in sessions with both internal and external stakeholders: Engagement Opportunities There is a high level of interest in establishing a consistent engagement processes across ACG It will be helpful to integrate community engagement as part of CIP evaluation process. Public engagement requires staff time and resources and therefore, it will be important to align appropriate levels of engagement strategies with various types of capital projects. There is a need to clarify roles & responsibilities – Board, staff, advocates, commissions, and the public. We need to build mutual trust & respect between stakeholders – staff, community, etc. After-action reviews offer a tool for providing insights for future projects. It is important to gain leadership approval early on both project & engagement scope/parameters. Communication Practices It will be helpful for ACG to clearly articulate the project scope and parameters throughout the project lifecycle. Explore opportunities for regular communication and updates at each stage of the project, especially due to sometimes lengthy project timelines. Identify tools to provide timely information about projects to nearby neighborhoods. Update members of the public and County Board about decisions and engagement to date (e.g., prior outreach, decisions, approved scope). Maintain transparency. Diversity of Views and Participants There is a lack of diverse representation in public processes (age, race, ethnicity, geographic, perspectives). There is a challenge in balancing different perspectives around unique projects. At times, tension exists between adjacent neighbors, civic associations, special interest groups, and broader public. It is important to acknowledge & value input submitted in different ways (e.g., online forums, email, in-person public meetings, Board meetings). At times, project delayed because individual or small group escalates concerns to County Board, though a robust public process has occurred. Lack of Capacity Civic Associations (CA) have varying levels of capacity to conduct outreach due to differences in size, activity level, capacity, budget, communication tools. There is a need to explore the role of commissions, advisory boards, and working groups in gathering public input to inform their recommendations. It will be helpful for all Commissioners (including Chairs) to receive orientation and/or training about roles and responsibilities. Training in facilitation, presentation, and communications could help staff, commissioners, advisory board chairs, and CA leadership. Which of these four insight themes resonated most with you? (you may select more than one) Engagement Opportunities Communication Practices Diversity of Views and Participants Lack of Capacity Please share more about WHY certain insights resonated with you.What, if any, insights are missing? Public Engagement - Triggers for Concern Throughout our sessions, we wanted to better understand the challenges and successes of recent engagement processes for capital projects. We identified three categories of concern, which offer potential opportunities for improving our engagement processes: Project Information and Sharing: There is a need for early, often and continuous communication about projects. There is often a long length of time between phases in the project lifecycle which sometimes leads to large gaps between planning, design, and project delivery. In addition, new residents may arrive in a neighborhood long after a project has been approved, designed, and contracted for construction. Resulting Changes or Impacts: It would be helpful to identify the level of engagement needed based on potential concern and impact. It is not uncommon for a project to change from the time of visioning and planning into the design phase. However, there are some projects with either a real or perceived change from the current use and/or configuration of a facility or space. There are also examples of where there may be a real or perceived negative impact on nearby neighbors or businesses. Costs: It is important for internal and external stakeholders to recognize the scope of the project and related costs. Ideas shared during visioning or conceptual phase do not always get adopted in final design due to cost and other factors. In other scenarios, sometimes the projects exceed budgeted amount and/or exceeds community expectations of the real costs. And, in other situations, sometimes there is a lack of awareness about project costs How important is it to address these concerns for future public engagement practices?Not importantSlightly importantModerately ImportantImportantVery importantWhat, if any, concerns or triggers are missing? Public Engagement Actions Forward - Draft Action Plan The insights and triggers for concerns outlined previously have informed the development of a Draft Action Plan for Public Engagement on Capital Projects in Arlington. This plan will be implemented over time, in coordination with various internal and external partners. Objective 1: Build a clear & consistent approach for public engagement Develop public engagement model for use on capital projects that could be used across all ACG capital projects Specify project information – team, location, scope/parameters, regulatory constraints Develop a decision matrix, with guiding questions to establish engagement levels aligned with various types of projects Establish a process to identify interested stakeholders early in process, including commissions Include an outline to ensure effective communication strategies & tools for capital projects Integrate an after-action review process Encourage civil dialogue and respect throughout the engagement process Create a common set of ground rules for in-person and online engagements Reinforce the importance of civility at all public meetings, including meetings of the County Board, commissions, advisory groups, work groups Align with similar policies for online engagement strategies Integrate engagement principles into CIP process Add a public engagement as an element during internal evaluation Ensure easy-to-find information on specific CIP projects Communicate engagement process to stakeholders Involve commissions where relevant (e.g., Joint Facilities Advisory Commission) Create an Arlington Engagement Corps Establish a cohort of neutral facilitators for external engagements on targeted projects (includes internal and external partners) Provide training and strategies on meeting design and application of appropriate tools for effective engagement Build Capacity for Engagement Practice Launch various engagement ‘boot camps’ for staff, civic associations, and commissions Objective 2: Strengthen communication & trust throughout project lifecycle Establish the following practices to communicate early and often throughout Use a range of tools, including signage, websites, newsletters, email, postcards, etc. Provide unique information on projects to nearby neighborhoods Share how stakeholder feedback/input influenced project Provide comprehensive information on engagement process in County Board Reports Include insights on varying community views/positions (for, against, neutral) when briefing County Board (including Board reports) and public Streamline and simplify access to project information on public website Create a searchable map view of County capital projects Provide the status of the engagement process by project Objective 3: Expand & diversify participation Implement the following strategies to increase diversity in ACG engagements Partner with ‘trusted source’ organizations to reach hard to reach communities Establish liaisons for targeted communities Explore alternative ways to participate (outside of face-to-face meetings) Leverage “go-where-people-are” outreach models Partner with the County Board, commissions, advisory boards, and work groups to conduct broader community outreach Ensure diverse participation on commissions, advisory groups, workgroups Strengthen coordination between staff and respective commissions during capital project discussions Encourage commissions, advisory boards, and workgroups to incorporate broader community input into relevant work & recommendations Encourage commissions, advisory boards and workgroups to utilize consistent approaches for gathering public comment during meetings Objective 4: Evaluate & enhance policies to advance good community engagement practice beyond capital projects Apply a consistent engagement process to policy development & adoption Apply similar principles to engagement on policy initiatives Identify alternative or additional considerations needed for public engagement on policy development and implementation Adopt a policy agenda to enhance public engagement Explore options for changing statewide policies that currently prohibit commission members to participate remotely or hold meeting virtually (via telephone, online, etc.) Explore strategies that could offer virtual and/or remote public comment for regular County Board Meetings Please provide feedback on the draft action plan by responding to the statements below. You can scroll up to review the action plan, or view the plan in this PDF.This draft action plan addresses the key insights and concerns gathered from internal and external stakeholders.Strongly disagreeDisagreeNeutralAgreeStrongly agreeThe objectives outlined in the draft action plan will help strengthen public engagement for capital projects.Strongly disagreeDisagreeNeutralAgreeStrongly agreeIf fully implemented, there is an opportunity to strengthen existing partnerships and build new relationships with the Arlington community.Strongly disagreeDisagreeNeutralAgreeStrongly agreePlease share any additional comments about the Draft Action Plan:Your InformationName* First Last Email* Zip Code* ZIP Code Select Your Civic AssociationNot sure which one? Check this map. Alcova HeightsArlington-East Falls ChurchArlington ForestArlington HeightsArlington MillArlington RidgeArlington ViewArlingwoodAshton HeightsAurora HighlandsBallston-Virginia SquareBarcroftBellevue ForestBluemontBoulevard ManorBuckinghamChain Bridge ForestCherrydaleClaremontClarendon-CourthouseColumbia ForestColumbia HeightsCrystal CityDominion HillsDonaldson RunDouglas ParkDover-CrystalFairlingtonForest GlenFoxcroft HeightsGlebewoodGlencarlynGulf BranchHighland Park-Overlee KnollsJeffersonJohn M. LangstonLeeway OverleeLong Branch CreekLyon ParkLyon VillageMadison ManorMaywoodNauckNorth HighlandsNorth RosslynOld DominionOld GlebePenroseRadnor/Ft. Myer HeightsRivercrestRiverwoodRock SpringShirlingtonStafford-Albemarle-GlebeTara-Leeway HeightsWaverly HillsWaycroft-WoodlawnWestover VillageWilliamsburgWoodmontYorktown Thank You for Your Feedback Plan implementation is expected to launch in the fall of 2017, with a goal of changing practice over the next several years. As we continue to gather feedback from residents, businesses, and other interested stakeholders, we'll move forward with strengthening public engagement processes across ACG. Please share this draft plan with colleagues, friends, and neighbors and invite them share input. 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