Last week Missoula County held two meetings over two separate days, dubbed the “Envision Missoula Transportation Meetings.” The forums were aimed at giving residents a glimpse of the transportation future and getting feedback in return.
Office of Planning and Grants (OPG) director Roger Millar says both events—which offered up the ideas culled from several previous public meetings on the issue—turned out to be a success, garnering the watchful eyes and input of about 250 residents. Half of the participants had attended previous meetings on the topic.
“A lot of new people turned out though, so that shows that people want to take part in the process,” Millar says.
One drawback Millar saw, however, was that most attendees came from the city. He says county residents need to give input, since the transportation plan will affect how roads are built in their communities for the next 20 years as well.
Envision Utah, the consulting firm hired to work with Missoula government officials in the planning process, presented three potential transportation plans. The designs were based on a series of themes and interests that emerged after meetings with citizens last November. The consultant and OPG “took the common themes and best ideas” and incorporated them into the three plans, Millar says.
Participants were also given keypads to answer questions posed in a slideshow. The result was an instant poll of the group’s opinions.
“That definitely worked out well,” Millar says. “A lot of times it seems at these meetings that people sort of follow a few strong personalities in the room, but with the keypads people could vote anonymously and I think that gives us a better picture of what they want.”
In one meeting, more than three-fourths of the participants wanted streets with adequate sidewalks, and a larger transit system.
“We’re going to use these ideas, and some others, and then bring more concepts to people in April,” Millar says.