Have an opinion about the new prohibited plant list, aggressive deer, housing costs or other topics but never made it to a public forum to speak your mind? That’s OK. You may have been selected for a visit by City Councilors and staff who will walk door-to-door in select neighborhoods to discuss the well-being of the city with residents from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11.
The councilors, as well as department heads and staff from planning, public works, police and fire departments who can answer a wide range of topics, will walk door-to-door in these seven neighborhoods. They’ll be armed with a packet of information from the city, including a list of accomplishments, highlights and major projects from each department, some information on the budget and issues the city is facing.
They’ll be explaining some issues and projects the city is facing now and answering any questions, but the main goal is to hear feedback. They’ll also be encouraging citizens to take part in an online survey.
City Administrator Kelly Madding said it’s a way to engage citizens in a short dialogue who may not be attending council meetings and providing feedback to city employees.
“We’ll basically be asking, ‘How do you think the city is doing and what can we do better?’” Madding said. “I know many, many citizens of Ashland are engaged in what the city is doing, but this is an effort to reach out to people who may not be as involved in what the city is doing and letting them know what the city is doing and answering questions they may have.”
Madding said the city of Medford has a similar program and she participated in it twice. Ashland’s council jumped on the idea when she mentioned it during her hiring interview, she said. If it goes well, it’s her hope that the event will happen twice a year, in the spring and again in the fall.
“It worked very well,” Madding said. “People were very receptive … I think it was a very successful program in Medford and I think it will be the same here.”
The neighborhoods were randomly selected and, assuming the event happens again, different neighborhoods will be selected. Each neighborhood has about 20 houses staff will visit in order to provide a broad cross-section of Ashland, Madding said.
Post cards were sent last week to the selected houses, letting recipients know of the upcoming visit.
The survey is available online now under the “Engage Ashland” tab at ashland.or.us/engage. It closes Saturday, Oct. 20.