NIRPC moves forward to improve public participation

2013-05-14T12:20:00Z 2013-06-11T12:59:10Z NIRPC moves forward to improve public participationRob Earnshaw Times Correspondent
May 14, 2013 12:20 pm  • 

PORTAGE │ A committee of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission has approved the agency’s new public participation plan.

The transportation policy committee’s approval of the proposed plan means it will be brought to an executive board session for adoption on May 23.

The proposed plan is an improvement of NIRPC’s adopted plan in 2007, said Steve Strains, director of planning. The new plan would address social media to engage the public in a way that the agency was either not “tuned into” in 2007 or that didn’t exist.

NIRPC social media improvements will include having a Twitter account, which Strains said should be up sometime during the calendar year.

The plan also calls for a present, full-time NIRPC staff person to oversee public involvement and communications. While Strains said that responsibility belongs to every staff person, after July 1 it will be handled by Stephen Sostaric, NIRPC regional planner.

Tasks of the proposed plan include improving the participation of more residents, including those with disabilities, by improving the accessibility to NIRPC meetings, task forces and working groups.

“We’re committed to going out in the region more through this plan,” Strains said.

The new plan says transportation improvement program amendments would be more focused and specific on the review and comment period.

A public participation task force of about 20 volunteers from the region was invited to participate in the process of updating the plan.

“There were quite a few people who touched this and made it better,” Strains said. “It is a better plan but the proof will be how we as a staff and various committees implement this. We’re committed to this and it gives us more to do and makes us reach out further, wider and better and in more ways to involve more members of the public. And that we welcome.”

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