I am one of those people who attend city meetings whenever I can. I like to know what is going on in the city in which I pay taxes and I think that having interested citizens at meetings keeps the elected officials as well as the staff on their toes. Even with this citizen involvement, all too often we hear about iffy practices, imagine if they had no residents at all interested.
At the CRA Board meeting last Tuesday a lot of time was spent discussing how the city could attract more people to its second and third CRA CIP public meetings. The commissioners, in a belittling way, said that they were afraid that only the same few people would attend the capital improvement meetings that attend the budget workshops and city meetings.
They talked about how to improve attendance at the meetings by sending out letters, and about handing out flyers rather than just posting a notice on the city hall door and on the web-site. But nobody said let’s really tell the public what is going on.
Well duh! Considering how poorly the meetings are advertised and how little information is given about the content of the meetings there should be no mystery about the low attendance.
I believe this lip-service discussion was in direct reaction to the fact that the OSOBs, disgusted at the lousy information about the meeting from city hall decided to run a full page advertisement in the Observer paper to try to get more people to the meetings and let residents know what the city is proposing. The commissioners know that 75% of the voters voted against developing the Main Beach Parking Lot, but the city is entertaining the idea again.
Just imagine for a minute that the city had spent the big bucks and sent out a letter to everyone stating what it says on the city web site about the meeting. Who do you think would be interested in going?
This is what the web-site notice says:
“Public Hearings-CRA Capital Improvements Two public hearings have been scheduled to al-low the public to provide input on the Community Redevelopment Agency’s (CRA) Five Year Capital Improvements Plan. The first meeting will take place on Thursday, January 20, 2011 at Royal Fiesta Event Center, 1680 SE 3rd Court in Deerfield Beach. The second meeting will be held on Thursday, February 3, 2011 at Briggs Hall, Community Presbyterian Church, 1920 SE 5th Street in Deerfield Beach.
Both meetings will begin at 6 PM.
For inquiries about the Deerfield Beach CRA, call 954-480-4263. To receive automatic updates on projects of interest in the CRA, visit www.Deerfield-Beach.com and select “E Subscriptions” to sign up for notifications on projects of interest. “
Right, let’s have a big YAWN! I don’t think anyone would be excited much less even mildly interested by this notice and I really think that is their idea. (Remember the CRA director and 4 out of 5 commissioners didn’t even want to have two more meetings, thank Bill Ganz for forcing them, so I am sure they are not eager to hear from a bunch of residents who might not agree with them or their special friends about the area.)
Think if the notice said something like: YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO COME GIVE IN-PUT ON HOW YOU WOULD LIKE THE MAIN BEACH PARKING LOT DEVELOPED OVER THE NEXT 5 YEARS, AND WHAT KIND OF DEVELOPMENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN SULLIVAN PARK, AND THE REST OF THE BEACH AREA, just maybe people might be interested. Using the word encouraged, not just “allowed”, might make a difference also. People are busy, but if it affects them they will show up, they just have to know what’s up.
The city has expertise in advertising, they know how to word notices, if they wanted citizen involvement they would have no trouble wording a notice to attract participation, they know about newspaper ads, so ask yourself why they don’t, there is only one answer.
The OSOBs think that the future of the lot and the park is important enough that residents should be informed about the meetings so that’s why they ran a full page ad in the Observer. THAT’S HOW TO GET THE WORD OUT!