Gaithersburg, MD is located to the northwest of Washington, D.C., and is considered a suburb of the Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV Metropolitan Statistical Area.
With a dense concentration of high technology and biotechnology companies along the Interstate 270 Technology Corridor, the City benefits from their proximity to regulatory agencies in the National Capital region.
The city of Gaithersburg has an ethnically diverse population, with over 28% of the nearly 70 thousand residents reporting as Hispanic.
The Citizen Engagement Challenge
Building community buy-in for revitalizing an aging retail center
As a result of changing retail habits, the Lakeforest Mall, located in the city of Gaithersburg, had experienced an economic decline in recent years. In evaluating the potential impacts to the local economy, city planners identified the 102 acre mall property as a significant redevelopment opportunity for the City and surrounding area.
The City knew they needed a plan for the future redevelopment of the property, one that helped create a space that would meet the needs of both residents and stakeholders.
To do this, the Mayor and City Council directed staff to use community engagement to guide the creation of the Lakeforest Mall Master Plan.
Community Engagement Powered by PublicInput
Planning for extensive public and stakeholder input, city staff worked to develop the Lakeforest Mall Master Plan using the PublicInput platform.
Using a mixed-mode approach to community engagement, staff were able to collect community input from a variety of sources including:
- Joint work sessions
- Focus groups
- Public forums
- Mailed surveying
- Online surveying
Most organizations facing similar challenges understand that collecting input in multiple formats improves the quality and representativeness of feedback. But without a centralized platform, managing multiple channels can be time-prohibitive for small teams.
Using PublicInput, city staff managed a multi-channel outreach and input gathering effort and received over 100k responses from residents and stakeholders about their needs and preferences for Lakeforest.
PublicInput view of Gaithersburg Dynamic Report
After a year of listening, public outreach, and meetings with both the Planning Commission and the Mayor and City Council, the Lakeforest Mall Master Plan was approved by the City Planning Commission and adopted by the Mayor and City Council.
Using the data gathered on the PublicInput platform, staff were able to point to broad, representative input from residents – especially those who lived near Lakeforest. This data enabled a high level of confidence in the decisions and recommendations in the draft report. Today, the city is moving forward with its economic development and revitalization of the Lakeforest Mall property, co-creating a brighter future for Gaithersburg – together with its residents.
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