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Cottage Grove partners with online survey platform

The city will be ramping up public engagement over digital platforms in the latest effort following the My Future Cottage Grove recommendation received last year.

Last year, the city completed the engagement process through Next Generation Consulting. At the end, six recommendations were given, including the continuation of digital engagement with Cottage Grove residents.

"Residents are anxious to engage with you digitally — that came through loud and clear," consultant Rebecca Ryan said at the time.

During the report presentation to the City Council last September, Ryan said over 3,700 residents commented in the study, many of them via digital engagement tools such as Facebook Live or city website surveys.

This month, the city launched a partnership with Polco to continue that goal.

Every resident who signs up for a Polco account will get notifications when new questions are available. There will be about five questions per month.

City Administrator Charlene Stevens said at the July 18 City Council meeting the questions will be focused more on "livability" issues than specific projects or city improvements.

She said the answers can be broken down into specific neighborhoods, allowing for more analysis, such as which communities feel safer than others.

The city can't see any personal information or the identity connected to answers.

The first questions are currently available until Aug. 31. Those first six questions cover safety, parks and communication.

Currently, the city is testing the platform using a six-month demonstration period. If the city chooses to keep it after the trial period, it will cost about $6,000 per year, Stevens said. A budget line for the software has been preliminarily placed in the 2019 budget.

Polco will not replace the use of traditional outreach methods such as open house meetings, but will be an extra way to get feedback, Stevens said.