Annexation Public Engagement

CLIENT: City of Soldotna, Alaska from: 06/01/2017 - 12/31/2017

Opportunity

Following the close of a fiscal study on annexation, the City of Soldotna engaged The Athena Group to conduct the city’s 2017 study of public perspectives on annexation. The primary question they wanted to answer was: Can Soldotna boundaries change and still respect what matters most to city government and residents, property owners and business owners within the city and in areas being studied for annexation? This question was part of a broader goal to engage citizens to identify issues and concerns, offer other general feedback on annexation based on requests over the previous two years, and for people to have an opportunity to make their voices heard.

Athena's Role

The Athena team designed and led the engagement process, which included:

  • An online forum that was open for community discussion over a two month period. Participants could openly share and discuss their opinions, and respond to a set of survey-type questions.
  • A presentation and Q&A session.
  • Three open houses where participants could talk about their questions and concerns to city staff.
  • Four community conversations.
  • And about a dozen interviews.

The Results

The public engagement process revealed the extent to which many myths existed about the motivation for and potential impacts of annexation. In this charged environment, the Athena team was able to establish space in which productive dialogue could occur and to make recommendations to the city for moving forward.

MEMBERS AND STAFF

  • Paul Horton
  • Meagan Picard

SERVICES

  • Organizational Resilience
  • Vital Conversations and Public Engagement