Greeley officials are using a new website to engage with more community members on a deeper level, including getting better feedback from more voices across town.
Speak Up Greeley was officially launched about a month ago on SpeakUpGreeley.com. Anyone can register on the website, which offers information on the city’s various projects and allows users to give their opinion.
People can answer polls, leave comments, take polls, leave notes on interactive maps, ask questions and more. Projects currently listed on the site include the 9th and 10th Street Corridor Project, Greeley Downtown Master Plan, 16th Street Improvement Project, Delta Park and Homelessness and Alternatives to lodging.
There are also more general pages, asking users to share their thoughts on a city neighborhood using pins on a map, sharing their priorities and vision for the city 10 years from now.
The website is hosted by Bang the Table, at an annual cost of $20,000 and a one-time fee of $8,800 to set up the website and train staff.
Sam Haas, the city’s public engagement and participation manager, said the website is another opportunity for people to have their say on important issues in the community.
“As a city, we really care about people’s input. And we want people to feel like their lived experiences help shape the decisions we make as a city,” Haas said.
The city looked at multiple platforms before settling on Bang the Table, which provides the same service to several Colorado municipalities, according to Haas. Decisive factors included how feedback was collected and shared, how it meshed with other websites and social media platforms and how many projects could be included, as well as training, support and the pricing structure.
Another reason the platform was favored is its integration with Google Translate, which means all pages can be translated into more than 100 languages, Haas added.
“One of our main hopes for this page is that it increases our reach in communities that might not have access to other forms of community engagement,” Haas said. “The hope is that we reach people in the community who may not have typical access to other forms of engagement.”
The city moved forward with the platform in part in response to the 2020 community engagement survey, in which respondents cited lack of time and lack of knowledge as the top two barriers to participation, according to James Redmond, the city’s public information officer.
With project summaries, videos and notes accessible in one place – along with the relevant point of contact – managers hope to increase knowledge and opportunities to get involved.
Many respondents also indicated a preference for learning and engaging online, through social media and newsletters.
Haas said the main focus so far has been to familiarize community “activators” with the platform through one-on-one interviews and presentations to different councils. Project-based outreach, such as encouraging people with feedback on the 9th and 10th Street Corridor project to share it on the website, was also a focus during the website presentation.
“Overall, people may not conceptualize what an engagement site is, but when they see a project or something that interests them, they may be more inclined to sign up and get involved because they actually care about this specific issue,” Haas said.
In deciding which projects are posted on the website, staff consider whether there is enough time to gather feedback, what part of the community is affected, and the level of community interest. The project also needs to incorporate feedback when final decisions are made, Haas said.
“Delta Park, homelessness and alternatives to housing, 9th and 10th streets — these are the ones where we know some things we need to do,” Redmond said. “How do we get there? What exactly does it look like in the end. We want the community’s help to figure this out.
The city will continue to hold in-person meetings, set up tables at events, go door-to-door and engage in other ways online, using Speak Up Greeley as a new tool. and not a replacement.
“It’s a hope to really diversify the voices we hear in our processes,” Haas said.