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Web Site helps Front Royal envision future

By Alex Bridges

Should Front Royal get a sky lift from town to Shenandoah National Park?

A new website lets Front Royal residents share ideas and help the town plan for the future.

The site - www.envisionfrontroyal.com -- supports the town's visioning efforts as Front Royal moves forward on an update of its Comprehensive Plan, according to a press release. Residents can use the website to communicate and collaborate with decision makers on the community's future, the release states.

Director of Planning and Zoning Jeremy Camp said the town plans to use the website through the visioning process anticipated to last into November. The website connects with several online social media services such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

"It's a great way to get the word out and to get people to feel comfortable," Camps said. "A lot of times they don't feel comfortable coming out to meetings and they can come here and kind of play around; really want to hear what they have to say."

Those interested in sharing ideas with town officials and others can also do so at upcoming forums on the visioning process. Town staff members plan to use ideas shared on the website at two public workshops - the first set for 5:30 p.m.-- 8:30 p.m. Sept. 12 and 9 a.m. -- noon Oct. 26 - at the administration building, 102 E. Main St. Town Council and staff expect to use input from the website and the workshops as they craft the update to the Comprehensive Plan.

Camp said he expects focus to remain on the website until the workshops begin.

"We think it's going to be a valuable tool to have," Camp said.

Online discussions start with broad topics and branch off based on input. Topics include:

  • What is your big idea for the future of Front Royal?

  • What are your top three reasons for living in Front Royal?

  • What are the community's most important places and assets?

The site allows users to submit digital photographs such as for the topic "Show us what makes Front Royal great."

Staff members plan to change the layout and topics over time to entice users to make return visits and post more comments, Camp said.

Front Royal hired Renaissance Planning Group, a national firm with an office in Charlottesville, to aid the town as a facilitator in the visioning process, including the administration of the website.

Envision Front Royal is a www.mindmixer.com website that uses many interactive tools. Also, the site measures participation and identifies the most interested visitors and topics.

"Part of it, too, is to get people to share their ideas and sell their ideas," Camp said. "People can like different ideas. It's kind of a natural scoring system on what people are thinking. If there's a lot of support for a particular idea that somebody posts, the other people who participate will like it."

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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