In addition to accepting public comment throughout the study (see the “Contact Us” page of this web site), there will be a number of opportunities to participate in the study process.

Two (2) informal public meetings will be held during this project:  A Public Kick-off Meeting and an Alternatives Public Meeting.  These meetings will be designed to present the project and conceptual project alternatives under consideration, as well as obtain input from the general public.

As part of the Alternatives Public Meeting that will occur, a new and innovative public engagement technique will be employed, which is called Deliberative Democracy.

In order to use the Deliberative Democracy process, an Issue Framework will be created using a process called Naming and Framing.  The process involves collecting perspectives from project stakeholders, interested parties, and subject matter experts as they identify (name) some of the problems and concerns they might have with the project. The “naming” will occur during several preliminary meetings ahead of the Alternatives Public Meeting.  The input from these sessions will be developed (framed) into a unique program for discussion during the Alternatives Public Meeting and will have been designed by the stakeholders and interested parties themselves, which recognizes and validates the diverse groups’ interests in the project. The framework for discussion will incorporate at least three alternatives for approaching the issues and concerns voiced throughout the naming process.

Creating an appropriate platform for civil and deliberative discussion by weighing the pros, cons, and tradeoffs for each approach will bring together area citizens who will make choices regarding the challenging issues of this project.  The forum will provide a non-partisan overview to the topical issue and encourage participants to take a fresh look at their own convictions. Offering a discussion framework for the Northeast Gateway: Welaunee Boulevard project will help the public take an active role in policy decision-making. 

In conducting “framed” public forums, participants share their opinions, concerns, and knowledge, as well as weigh several possible options for society to address the issue.  Moderators encourage participants to examine their values as individuals and as community members.  In this deliberative practice, participants often accept approaches that are not entirely consistent with their individual wishes and that impose costs they had not initially considered.  This happens because this style of talk helps people see issues from different points of view; participants use deliberation to discover, not persuade or advocate.  The best deliberative forums can help participants move toward shared public judgments about important issues.  Participants may hold sharply different opinions and beliefs but, in the forums, they discuss their attitudes, concerns, and convictions about each issue and, as a group, seek to resolve their conflicting priorities and principles.  In this way, participants move from making individual choices to making choices as members of a community – the kinds of choices from which public action may result. The Alternatives Public Meeting as described above will be a completely different meeting format and will be moderated by trained moderators in the Deliberative Democracy format.