Manassas City Council embraces town-hall idea

MANASSAS — City officials have decided to take the government to the people by implementing a type of town-hall-meeting approach that will mirror the recently established community policing program.

Hoping the new forum will improve outreach and enable officials to better communicate with residents, the city will kick off the new program in March, City Council announced Monday night, and will invite all members of the community in one of six neighborhoods.

City Council had previously held regular meetings with individual homeowners associations and routinely held a time for citizen comment at its meetings. City officials hope the town-hall meetings will provide a more resident-friendly venue.

This new format will give those members of the community who do not belong to an HOA the opportunity to meet with city officials and their neighbors at the same time in order to discuss any relevant issues or questions.

“This is a pro-active way to keep everyone on the same page with everyone else,” said City Councilman J. Steven Randolph. “We are bringing the government to the people.”

Each Manassas resident was recently notified by a member of the Manassas Police Department which “police beat” they belong to, represented by a city elementary school. Residents will be under the same “beat” for city meetings. Each meeting will be held at a city elementary school, and each resident will be notified either by their HOA, if they belong to one, or by phone via the city notification telephone system.

“We want to invite all members of the community to receive briefings from [City] Council about issues in the city,” said City Manager Larry Hughes.

The first neighborhood to meet in March is tentatively those belonging to the Baldwin police beat, others will be held after each quarter.

“What city leaders hope to gain goes beyond insights on what citizens think,” stated Chief of Police John J. Skinner in the Town Hall newsletter. “[We hope to] strengthen the quality of community dialogue, helping citizens understand the complexity of issues that affects the community and finding a common ground and shared values.”

Staff writer Trina Goethals can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 121

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