As I was compiling our weekly preview of Natick town government meetings earlier this week I was temporarily puzzled when the Zoning Board of Appeals agenda took me to an unfamiliar website dubbed Natick Speaks. Not to be confused with Natick Talks, the popular Facebook group in town.
Natick Speaks is a pilot website introduced by the town’s Community & Economic Development department in conjunction with a firm called People Speak. Amanda Loomis, Natick’s director of Community & Economic Development, says the town is working with People Speak “to see if such a program is a good fit for the Town. The goal is to expand communications between the Town and members of the Natick community.”
Natick Speaks highlights upcoming meetings, makes related documents easily accessible, and allows for public comment (you need to include identifying info, as comments left on the site will become part of the public record). You can subscribe to get email updates on specific issues.
There’s also a button that lets you pose questions to town staff, and link that goes to the Natick’s main website.
The program has been used in communities on the west coast, and was presented a couple of years ago at the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference about 2 years ago, according to Loomis.
Natick has kicked things off on Natick Speaks with the Zoning Board of Appeals and Historic District Commission.
Planning Board meetings will be added in December, and the Conservation Commission on Jan. 1.