Baytown invites residents to engage on new platform

Lesley Kohles previews new community engagement website.

 

 

The residents of Baytown have long expressed a strong desire to provide input for decisions that affect their lives.  As of September 1, 2020, the City has a new digital platform that will give the community a chance to access information and provide feedback about major projects around town.

The new platform, called Baytown Engage, is a great example of how the City of Baytown is adapting to meet the community’s desire for an ongoing flow of information and interaction.

The platform is an invaluable tool that will allow the community to provide input and influence outcomes.  This interactive site offers many opportunities to leave comments about proposed projects, take quick polls and surveys, make suggestions, and even upload pictures of public art projects community members feel might be popular in Baytown.

One of the first projects to be featured on Baytown Engage will be the Garth Road Widening project, a joint improvement project between the City of Baytown and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The Garth Road Widening project includes reconstructing and widening the existing Garth Road roadway from four to six lanes, from IH 10 to Baker Road.  The project will be completed in six phases over the course of approximately eight years. “Obviously a project of this scope is going to have a huge impact on Baytown,” says Assistant City Manager Nick Woolery. “We want to provide the highest level of transparency throughout the project and give residents and business owners a chance to ask questions and access information so that they will know what to expect.”   Beginning on September 16, 2020, a Virtual Public Meeting for the Garth Road Project will be available on the Baytown Engage platform. The virtual meeting, which includes a state-of-the-art video simulation of the new lane configurations, will replace the in-person public meetings that were the norm prior to COVID-19. “There are actually advantages to virtual engagement,” explains Woolery.  “The online model provides people more flexibility.  They can engage at times that are most convenient to them instead of juggling their schedules to attend a face-to-face meeting.” Anyone who views the public meeting between September 16, 2020 and October 1, 2020, will have the opportunity to leave comments.

Sabrina Martin, the City’s new Community Engagement Coordinator has been instrumental in establishing this new digital platform.   Sabrina, who took on this new role in June, has been tasked with finding creative ways to engage individuals that live and work in Baytown.  Before taking on this challenge, Sabrina worked for the City’s Tourism Division and as a librarian at Sterling Municipal Library. While COVID-19 certainly presents a unique set of obstacles to community involvement, Sabrina is confident that the Baytown Engage platform will connect people to City projects in a new and exciting way.

While social media is effective for quick updates, Martin explains that Baytown Engage is a more efficient platform for capturing the progression of a project. “We can provide more details, documents, and images on Baytown Engage. While social media can make it difficult to follow the scope of a project, Baytown Engage provides a single, user-friendly platform where people can easily return and find information on a project and track progress.”

Everyone who has a stake in the future of Baytown is invited to join the conversation on Baytown Engage.  Currently you can find information regarding the Garth Road Widening project, Public Art, the Baytown Engage Podcast, and Neighborhood Associations.  To find Baytown Engage go to www.baytownengage.com

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