Why is the City doing a resident engagement program?
We know that residents want more and better opportunities to discuss issues that impact their neighborhoods, and this Let’s Talk program responds to that need. The program was a primary recommendation in the updated Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy (NRS) which was adopted by City Council in 2019.
What is the NRS?
The Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy (NRS) is an important policy document for the City. The NRS articulates the state of the city and a 10-year work program to address issues and opportunities. City Council adopted the first NRS in 2005 and adopted an updated NRS in 2019. The 2019 update was led by a 26-member citizen steering committee and included a year of robust community input. More information on the NRS can be found at https://www.ci.wheatridge.co.us/NRS.
Why should I pay attention to the Let’s Talk Program?
We know residents talk about City issues and opportunities at the neighborhood level. If the City isn’t part of those conversations, it's tough to be responsive. The program’s primary goal is to listen to what you as a Wheat Ridge resident see as the most important issues and opportunities in your neighborhood and respond to what we hear.
How can I share my input as a resident?
The Let's Talk program divides the city into ten smaller geographies (“neighborhoods”) for the purpose of allowing smaller group conversations. Each neighborhood will see a resident engagement “blitz” that will last about 3-4 months. Each blitz has a few phases of engagement – a survey, 1-2 rounds of meetings, and an action plan. During this blitz, you’ll hear from the city about the various opportunities to provide your input on neighborhood issues and opportunities. If you participate in any of these events, we’ll make sure you’re on our notification list. If you’re not a resident in one of the current focus neighborhoods and want to stay informed or provide input, you can sign up here or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why do I have to register to participate on the Let's Talk website?
Anyone can view content on Let's Talk pages, but in order to participate (e.g., take a survey, provide comments, etc.) we do ask that you register. It takes about a minute and is important to ensure the feedback we receive comes from those impacted most by any city decisions.
What topics will be discussed during Let's Talk?
Whatever you want! You and your neighbors and whoever participates will be the ones to determine which topics get discussed. More specifically, each neighborhood will have the chance to respond to a 10-question survey; common themes from those responses will start the conversation, but more topics are always welcome. An important program goal is for city staff to reach out to each neighborhood with a blank slate and no preconceived ideas of what the issues and opportunities are.
How will resident input be used?
Resident feedback is the basis for a neighborhood-specific action plan that gets presented to City Council following each engagement “blitz.” Each blitz is structured to first identify what the most important topics are to residents, then to discuss how to address these topics through the lens of timing, resources, and tradeoffs. Resident feedback on the “what” and “how” will be documented in the action plan, presented to Council, and will result in actions within and/or across neighborhoods.
How did you decide on the neighborhood boundaries? Are these official neighborhood designations?
The program is not aiming to formally define or name neighborhoods. We know many of you don’t identify with these neighborhood names or boundaries as your “neighborhood,” but we needed to break the City into smaller chunks. The boundaries that we are using originate with the 2019 NRS update; during a community open house about 90 residents completed a "map your neighborhood" activity. Let's Talk slightly modifies those boundaries based on several factors including population distribution and the boundaries used by Nextdoor, one of the most widely used neighborhood communication platforms in Wheat Ridge.
Which neighborhood am I in, and when will you be here?
The Let’s Talk neighborhood boundaries are shown on the main program page at: https://whatsupwheatridge.com/lets-talk. It will take about two years for the program to cover all 10 neighborhoods, and we have not predetermined the order of all 10. Instead, we are using several factors to determine the order in which neighborhoods are engaged, including pace of change, past and future planning efforts, and resident level of interest in program participation. A program goal is also to be nimble and respond to changing neighborhood issues and opportunities. If your neighborhood is next, you will hear from Let’s Talk at least a month before the blitz begins.
Why is Let’s Talk only aimed at residents and not other stakeholders, like businesses?
The purpose of this program is to specifically understand and respond to the question of what it’s like to live in your neighborhood. What do you love? What do you need? These questions can only be answered by residents of the neighborhood. The 2019 NRS makes a distinction between neighborhoods and corridors, and the City has other types of programs and plans to engage business owners and stakeholders, such as corridor plans or subarea planning efforts.
Why and how is the City conducting community engagement in the middle of a pandemic?
We believe there’s no time like the present to improve communication between the City and residents. There are obvious challenges with in-person conversations to ensure we are all staying safe, but it also presents opportunities. For example, virtual meetings can provide more flexibility and convenience for residents to have a conversation with the city about neighborhood issues. We’ve also found that people are increasingly recognizing the importance of community during these times, and this program is an excellent outlet to support this new perspective. The format of meetings will be primarily virtual during the pandemic. We are only doing in-person meetings if there are no health and safety risks involved, and we’re complying with all state and local orders. Conversations over the phone are always an option too.