By William WoodyCity of Montrose
MONTROSE — Whether in-person or online, the City of Montrose has made significant improvements in the ways residents can stay informed about city news while working to bridge the gap between city administrators, community partners, and the residents they serve.
Over the course of 2021, the City of Montrose staff proactively sought out opportunities to engage in more regular conversations with local residents and organizations throughout the community. In 2021 city staff hosted a variety of public meetings, open houses, online Zoom meetings, and a variety of one-on-one, in-person meetings that foster face-to-face connections.
“No singular entity has the capacity to understand the varied and complex needs of a community without the help of partnerships,” said Community Engagement Specialist Ross Valdez.
While many in the city work behind the scenes to improve customer service and strengthen civic policy, it’s Valdez who is forward-facing in the community, making sure local residents have their voices heard. Valdez also works off site regularly at organizations such as the Mexican American Development Association, MADA, to better engage with community members.
Valdez spends a lot of his time meeting with local residents, area nonprofits, and other city partners with a focus on growing relationships and strengthening community ties surrounding critical needs and services.
One example of this is childcare. In 2021, the city worked with the Uncompahgre Valley Alliance Childcare Caucus, Bright Futures, and Montrose County to conduct a childcare needs assessment.
(Community Engagement Specialist Ross Valdez speaks with residents during the Block 93 party in downtown Montrose in October)
Through the resulting assessment report, the city gained a better understanding of how deficiencies in childcare services impact residents and the preferences they have in addressing this issue. This type of engagement has led to partnerships with childcare providers such as Maslow Academy of Applied Learning to help close the services gap by creating additional slots for children.
Similar to other towns and cities across the state, the City of Montrose faces challenges related to housing. The city has participated regularly in various community meetings hosted by partner organizations focused on addressing the need for additional housing opportunities for residents and has responded in a variety of ways.
One example is the recent reevaluation of the Redevelopment Overlay (REDO) District. When looking at quick and effective ways to increase the housing inventory in Montrose, the REDO district offers the potential to increase density in places with existing infrastructure through accessory dwelling units.
The REDO district currently encompasses neighborhoods near downtown. The city hosted a hybrid public meeting this year at the Montrose Pavilion and on Zoom to gather feedback from residents on ways that the REDO district could potentially be enhanced and expanded.
These public meetings were well attended, and many questions and concerns were discussed to strengthen city policy on local housing in the months and years to come, according to Valdez.
“I have really appreciated the folks that have taken the time to be active participants in their local government. It’s always great to see someone show up and provide public comment at a City Council or Planning Commission meeting to exercise their right as a resident of the city,” Valdez said. “At the city, we value the participation of community members at public engagement events and will continue to work diligently to provide more opportunities in the future.”
Valdez said the city makes time to promote these opportunities on social media including Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor alongside local newspaper ads and KVNF public service announcements.
With the integration of new technology, the city has made it easier to stay up-to-date with municipal meetings, policy changes, public infrastructure work, and much more through an arsenal of online tools.
City Council and Planning Commission meetings are streamed on Zoom, affording residents the ability to not only attend but also participate at regularly scheduled meetings from the comfort of their homes.
New in 2021 is the launch of the city’s Public Meetings Portal, designed to provide convenient, one-stop access to public meeting information including agendas, minutes, and video from City Council meetings.
This new online tool allows anyone to see the upcoming public meeting schedule, watch City Council meetings live, and follow along with the same meeting agendas and materials that City Councilors use to make informed decisions. Videos of each City Council meeting are then bookmarked by agenda item to allow quick access to specific meeting video segments.
This is huge.
Basically, anyone who missed a meeting but wants to know what happened with a specific agenda item can use the online portal to watch video of each item without having to search through vast stretches of video to find it.
Residents can view official meeting minutes once they are formally approved, subscribe to receive email and text notifications about upcoming meetings, and manage the details that they see on the public portal.
“Our goal was to have all public meeting information, past, present and future, in one convenient location on the website. Ease of navigation makes the Public Portal the perfect tool for this purpose,” said City Clerk Lisa Delpiccolo.
In addition, residents now have abundant opportunities to watch public meetings from the comfort of their home.
With the proliferation of smart TVs and smartphones, Montrose residents can watch past City Council meetings via the city’s YouTube channel. This channel archives each City Council work session and regular meeting, as well as other community content.
By downloading the YouTube app on a smart TV, residents can subscribe to the City of Montrose’s channel. New local programming is posted weekly including The Forum presentations that are held each week at Colorado Mesa University.
Valdez said the city has also taken steps to provide additional opportunities for Spanish speakers to participate in local government by increasing bilingual social media posts and offering more interpretation services at public events.
“The city recognizes that there is still work to be done in the years ahead to improve opportunities for community engagement,” Valdez said. “Should anyone have any questions, concerns, or suggestions related to community engagement, please do not hesitate to contact us at (970) 240-1471.”
For those who were excited about the launch of a new online tool for accessing the city’s Municipal Code in 2020, there has been an exciting addition in 2021. The city’s Regulations Manual and City Charter have now gone digital as well.
The City Charter provides the essential framework for city government while the Regulations Manual is the repository for a host of administrative arrangements for land use and building, finance, operation of city utilities, council policies, engineering, and a variety of other matters.
With the aid of the same online service that hosts the city’s Municipal Code, residents can quickly and conveniently access any section of the Regulations Manual or City Charter that meets their specific needs or interests. Links to static excerpts from the manual and charter on the city’s website have been replaced with direct links to pertinent sections of the online resources that can be downloaded or shared.
Explore more at: CityofMontrose.org/Regulations and City of Montrose.org/CityCharter
Montrose Police Expand Report Making Capability
The Montrose Police Department this year launched a new, online tool for public use in reporting minor incidents.
This web-based reporting system, called the Desk Officer Online Reporting System (DORS), allows the public to file certain incident types over the internet at the users' convenience.
Incident types include minor theft, fraud, vehicle trespass, lost property, hit and run, minor private property crashes, vandalism, and others.
The newly created tool can be found by simply visiting the City of Montrose's website at www.CityofMontrose.org/Report.
The DORS system gives officers more time to address urgent community needs while keeping pace with the public’s expectations for online services.
According to Police Commander Matt Smith, officers expect this internet-based reporting service to be very popular among citizens who have come to expect immediate and convenient online police services.
The DORS system gives the public the option to file a report at a time that is best for them, without having to wait for an officer to respond or call them back.
Smith said the system also allows the public to file their case remotely from any internet-connected electronic device and print a temporary copy of their completed report.
Once submitted, police personnel will review the report and the person filing the report will then receive their copy of the report via email.
The report will then transfer into the Montrose Police Department’s records management system to receive the same investigation, statistical analysis, and retrieval as reports filed in person.
"This online reporting tool will give community members the option to file reports at their convenience, which can save time for them. People wishing to report these non-emergency crimes can now do so without having to make a trip to the department, wait for an officer, or file a report request for their records," Smith said. "Our department hopes that this tool will be utilized by our community and recognized as a benefit to them."
Smith said the reporting tool is not monitored in real-time, and if the public needs help for any in-progress incident, crime, or emergency they should still call WestCo Dispatch at 9-1-1 or the non-emergency line for other matters at 970.249.9110.
Stay connected with city news, bid postings, meeting notices, and more as soon as they are released.
Sign up for email or text notifications at: CityofMontrose.org/NotifyMe
"Moving Montrose Forward" (MoveMo) is all about equipping Montrose for a successful future by investing in public infrastructure improvements. This includes the expansion of our transportation network (including pedestrian and bicycle facilities/trails), maintenance of existing roadways, and improvements/maintenance of water, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer utilities.
Keep up-to-date with all current Public Works projects at www.MoveMo.co
Connecting with Council (In-Person)
Chat one-on-one with your elected city representatives during the new event series, Connect with City Council. When: 5 to 6 p.m. prior to the council’s regular meeting on the third Tuesday each month. Where: City Council Chambers, 107 S Cascade Ave.
The City of Montrose maintains an active presence on a wide range of social media. Find us here:
Facebook: City of Montrose
YouTube: City of Montrose
TV: City of Montrose TV can be found for Charter Subscribers on channel 191 and for Elevate Subscribers on channel 970.
(City of Montrose TV studio)