Public engagement remains a core element to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s Local Technical Assistance program, and our commitment to eliciting feedback from residents and stakeholders on planning projects hasn’t wavered during the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing.
As we keep adapting to this new reality, CMAP will use a variety of online tools meant to keep communities and the public connected with our LTA work. This includes our new engagement website that displays ongoing projects in a more interactive way, from easy-to-access surveys to customizable maps. We also will continue to assess how to engage residents with limited technology. The digital divide too often leaves neighborhoods with low or no access to the internet underrepresented and marginalized.
To be responsive to urgent needs, CMAP will continue to study economic data and document the challenges faced by municipalities through surveys, phone calls, and project work. We’re also listening to our communities and helping them navigate challenges brought on by COVID-19. Our outreach efforts include a recent CMAP Talks webinar about the tools, technology, and best practices that local officials throughout northeastern Illinois can use to interact virtually with the public.
The agency’s planning team also is working closely with LTA partners to expedite, revise, or pause work on current and upcoming projects. Despite the pandemic, CMAP also is moving forward with a new round of LTA projects with an eye toward bolstering equity and inclusivity throughout the region. The projects were selected earlier this year through a qualitative and quantitative process that considers high-need communities and their planning efforts.
Among the newly approved LTA projects, CMAP staff will help officials in south suburban Flossmoor on improving mobility and addressing road safety throughout the community. CMAP also is providing technical assistance to Elevated Chicago with revitalizing the Garfield station on the Green Line South and the California station on the Pink Line. For this project, CMAP and its partners have made sure the public engagement process is inclusive and provides meaningful opportunities for minority populations to contribute ideas.
Based on what we have heard from communities, so far, our newly updated agency-wide fiscal year 2021 work plan focuses on recovery, equity, and regional economic competitiveness. As we keep navigating COVID-19’s short- and long-term effects, CMAP invites partners from across the region to share ideas and insights on the best virtual public engagement.