Manassas Park resident Lisandro Jimenez would take his family to today’s Town Hall Workshop, but his father wouldn’t understand.
“He speaks English, but doesn’t understand that much,” Jimenez said of his native Spanish speaking father. “That might be the reason he’d say ‘I don’t want to go’.”
Other than the language barrier, Jimenez said it’s a good idea to have this meeting at the high school to discuss the city’s future with residents. The session will run from 8 a.m to 3 p.m., with a lunch break and sessions including brainstorming and speeches.
“It’s good because people can express their opinions,” Jimenez said.
But Jimenez said, like his father, the many Latinos in Manassas Park won’t attend today’s meeting.
“It’s people’s fault because they’re supposed to speak English,” Jimenez said. “But maybe the speakers should have somebody translating.”
And while the city hasn’t hired a translator, it has hired a facilitator. Milton Herd with Herd Planning and Design from Loudoun County will be on hand to direct resident comments in a useful direction for the city.
“This is somebody who leads the discussion who has done this elsewhere,” said City Manager David Reynal. “He makes sure the residents understand what the city needs to move forward and gets proposals into a usable form.”
The Planning Commission wants input at an early stage for a revision of the city’s comprehensive plan, which guides future land use.
“They’re inviting the public to come out and find out more about what the city’s planning process is, and offer any comments so we can build an effective plan with community support,” Reynal said.
Land use is a key issue in Manassas Park because very little open space remains.
“For a larger jurisdiction, there is probably a lot more flexibility because they have so much undeveloped area, whereas Manassas Park is just about built out,” said Mayor William J. Treuting. “There is not a lot of total area for development and we’re really looking for the public’s input for some of those areas and where they envision the city going in the future.”
And while some will not attend because of a language barrier, other find themselves just too busy.
“Everyone is kind of involved in their own thing instead of the big picture,” said Manassas Park resident Dawn Henry.
Henry said she would like to attend, and thinks the meeting is a good opportunity for residents, but caring for her elderly mother-in-law occupies too much of her time. But she does expect a least some residents will attend.
Andy Frostman, another Manassas resident, said he didn’t think the event was publicized enough.
Regardless of the various reasons residents won’t attend, Mayor Treuting says this is a unique opportunity for those who do attend to be an integral part of updating the comprehensive plan.
“When the city writes the comprehensive plan, it’s saying where the city came from, what the city is doing and where the city intends to go for the future.”