When we work with local governments on planning projects that involve municipal land or government funding, meaningful public engagement is a key to getting buy-in from citizens.
Currently, B2 is partnering on a planning project for the waterfront Clearwater Bluffs area of downtown Clearwater with lead consultant HR&A Advisors and consultants Kimley-Horn & Associates and Sasaki Associates. The plan focuses on a 66-acre area that includes Coachman Park, the downtown Clearwater Library and the Harborview Center.
[caption id="attachment_2453" align="alignright" width="476"] Cary Hirschstein of HR&A Advisors introduces the team’s ideas to Clearwater residents during one of the public engagement sessions. Nearly 250 people attended the sessions and shared their thoughts and ideas for this major project for downtown Clearwater.[/caption]
In addition to traditional communications work like news media outreach and content development, B2 Communications, working with Diane Jones of DJ Public Relations, has assisted in publicizing and organizing a number of well-attended public engagement sessions around the city.
In August, the City held three successful sessions attended by more than 250 people. After gathering input from those meetings, from smaller get-togethers with neighborhood, business and civic leaders and from online comments, the team presented a draft plan on Nov. 29 to the Clearwater City Council, followed by two more community meetings.
Attendees’ suggestions have ranged from ideas for concerts, public art and kids’ activities to thoughts about how to incorporate residential and restaurant components. The result: A plan that actually increases green space, but also adds a number of interesting features, such as a splash pad, paths for biking and walking, a marsh pond, and promenades for events like the popular Pierce Street Market.
The consulting team is now taking the input gathered from the latest meetings to finalize a plan to be presented to the City Council for approval. It will reflect input gathered in a wide range of ways – an all-important element for successful public engagement.