Discussing the future of your neighborhood together

Everyone knows that intersection is dangerous. Or that the stretch of street between here and there has too many bars. Couldn’t we have a plaza in our neighborhood? Who do you even talk to about those things? A first stop for your concerns is the staff of your Community Board, who often can either point you to existing resources, or take your issue to the Board for discussion.

But what if you want to do more than just register a suggestion or complaint? Our Community Projects Platform is a great place to start a conversation, get feedback on proposed solutions, create surveys about what your neighbors want, and maybe even come to a consensus about the best way forward.

The Community Projects Platform features:

  • Place-based discussion–the ability to connect discussions to specific locations.
  • Watch areas–people can follow what’s being discussed by locations that are important to them.
  • Surveys and voting–community members have ideas, some good, others not so good. Finding out what people think ahead of a meeting saves time.
  • Public input–Community Boards need to take public input on proposals. Doing this online makes it easier for more people to participate and follow along.

Could these tools be used by Community Boards themselves? After all, the full board and various committees have many issues to discuss in their monthly meetings. The discussion tool gives them a place to “listen in” to what individuals and advocacy groups are saying beforehand. Background information can be presented and digested prior to meetings, saving the in-person time for questions and decision making. And, in the case of big projects, like converting a side street into a plaza, the process takes a long time. Using online discussion tools can be a way of creating and maintaining enthusiasm.

I know what you’re thinking. What about New York State’s Open Meetings Law (OML, Sections 100-111 of the New York State Public Officers Law), which requires that all meetings of public bodies be open to the public? Wouldn’t an online discussion among Community Board members violate the OML?

The law itself is silent on this point, leading me to believe that as long as the discussion site were open to everyone, and not just Community Board members, there wouldn’t be a problem. Like all our tools, we’re thinking about accessibility to all web users, good mobile design, and translations, so all members of the community will be able to participate in discussing the future of their neighborhood.

Thanks to the generous support of our founder, OpenPlans is able to provide tools to Community Boards free of charge. Read more about our tools for boards. We’ll meet with you, learn about your needs and aspirations, find a good project to work on, set up the software, and train your volunteers in its use. Interested? Contact us today