Washington City launches new website to foster ideas from citizens; STGnews Videocast

WASHINGTON CITY – Corresponding with the beginning of Cotton Days in Washington is the official launch of YourWashington.org, a new part of the Washington City website where city residents can share ideas with the community and connect with city government. Ideas submitted can be voted and commented on by others and, should they prove popular enough, may be addressed by the city council.

This morning’s Cotton Days Parade was invaded by a flash mob announcing the new program:

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Videocast by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News

Mainly it’s an idea generator,” Washington City Manager Roger Carter said.  Carter is the one who came up with the idea behind YourWashington.org after seeing a similar citizen’s input site for Mesa, Ariz., called iMesa.

Carter said the website consolidates a large of amount of information already on the Washington City website. However, the main feature being pushed on YourWashington.org is its “user voice program,” he said, which enables residents to post their ideas for all to see, as well as address and vote upon them.

The city can see what’s on the mind of the community, Carter said. As the ideas are posted and voted on, it allows citizen concerns and input to “boil up to the surface” and get noticed by city officials.

They get lots of votes and the city can comment on it,” Carter said.

While the idea-contribution section is primarily geared toward the citizens, Carter said the city officials may put out ideas now and again to gauge what the people think of them.

“We as a mayor and city council can put up what we’re thinking,” Washington City Mayor Ken Nelson said, “but it may not be what our citizens are thinking.”

Examples of what citizens of Washington may post on YourWashington.org could include the following:

  • Thoughts could be expressed concerning a recently proposed ecology museum and nature preserve called “The Boiling Springs Ecoseum” which aims to preserve “the Boilers” ponds and Millcreek Canyon. An initial development agreement was discussed in a city council meeting and voted down in its current form, yet is anticipated to be presented before the council again in a revised form.
  • A zoning change made in a recent council meeting will allow for the development of six housing units at 50 East 400 North in downtown Washington. Some residents don’t like the idea because of possible issues that may arise in connection with high-density housing. What might people who didn’t have the opportunity to attend the council meeting have to say about the project on YourWashington.org?
  • One Washington City resident, Chris White, has already used the site to propose that proactive plans be made for the business that will come to the city due to the Southern Corridor roadway.

“The southern corridor is going to make it possible for Zion park visitors to completely bypass St. George on their way to Zion from the airport,” White wrote. “Let’s make sure we are ready for the opportunities that will provide.”

“This is users’ voice,” Carter said, “from the citizen (towards) our direction.”

Aside from the “user voice program,” YourWashington.org will also enable residents to have better access to the mayor and city council, their voting records, and the agendas and minutes of past city council and planning commission meetings.

People will also be able to view the community calendar for upcoming events, as well as access information pertaining to parks, trails, maps, utility information, business licenses, public safety, building permits, recreational services, and volunteer opportunities – YourWashington.org acting as a gateway to all of these areas found on the Washington City website.

The site also supplies access to social media like the city Twitter feed, Facebook pages, blogs, and YouTube channel.

After the official launch of YourWashington.org on Saturday, Carter said the city plans to have various points around the city where people will be reminded about the website, and will be supplied with a QR code – quick response code – they can scan with a smartphone for immediate access.

Carter said there’s always been a challenge in any city government involving citizen interaction. However, technology is helping to change that. With the launch of the new site, it is anticipated that residents will be proactive in sharing their ideas and views with city officials.

“Our goal will be for ideas to move from the citizens forward,” Carter said.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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