Community engagement report open for public comment

A recently released report that examines how to best engage community members in the city's decision-making process wouldn't be complete without giving Minneapolis residents the opportunity to add their input.

City officials are encouraging residents to share their thoughts on the Community Engagement Report, which is now available for public review. The report was formed after the City Council directed a staff work group in May to review and compile previously documented feedback, reports, and recommendations on the city's current community engagement activities.

Current community engagement activities, according to the report, include such things as councilmembers attending neighborhood meetings and sending notices to constituents, public hearings at City Council meetings, and advisory committees and planning groups.

The primary purpose of community engagement activities, according to the report, is to empower people to influence decisions that shape the city and their lives.

But the report notes that depending on the type of city decision being made, &#8220it is very difficult for the public to predict which activities will actually occur, which makes the city's current community engagement system difficult to understand. That is a problem.”

The report concludes that in order to improve its community engagement process, the city should:

– Explain the decision-making authority for each type of city decision;

– Clarify the roles and responsibilities of all official advisory groups;

– Establish predictable, baseline community engagement expectations for each type of decision;

– Develop accessible, consistent, two-way communication systems; and

– Coordinate planning and priority setting with other public jurisdictions.

The full report is being distributed to neighborhood groups and other organizations and may be found online at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/news/docs/CE_Report_final.pdf.

The City Council is expected to discuss the community engagement report early in 2007, which means written comments must be received by Friday, Jan. 5.

Comments should be submitted to Community Engagement Coordinator Clara Perrin, who can be reached by mail at 350 S. 5th St., Minneapolis, MN 55415; by fax at 612-673-2011; or by e-mail at [email protected].

Residents who need a paper copy of the report or need any of the information in a different format may call Perrin at 612-673-3163.

The city hired Perrin to serve as the community engagement coordinator earlier this year. In her new role, she serves as a liaison between neighborhoods and city departments to encourage residents to become more involved in the city's decision-making process.