It is the policy of the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) to have a proactive public involvement process that provides complete information, timely public notice, and full public access to CRCOG activities at all key stages in the decision-making process. It is also CRCOG policy to involve the public early in the planning process, and to actively seek out the involvement of communities most affected by particular plans or projects. Furthermore, it is a goal of the community involvement policy that the Region’s transportation plans and programs be developed in a manner that assures that the public, and affected communities in particular, are afforded ample opportunity to participate in the development of such plans.
First adopted in 2000 and updated several times since then, CRCOG’s Public Participation Plan defines the minimum effort CRCOG makes in reaching out to the public. In fact, public involvement at CRCOG is a much more far-reaching effort than that specified in the Policy. Each major planning project includes a public involvement program tailored to that project and often includes extra efforts such as focus groups, separate meetings with individuals and interested groups, and newsletters. CRCOG’s MPO brochure (MPO Español) defines opportunities for the public to get involved in the various programs and projects that CRCOG undertakes.
The Capitol Region Council of Governments was one of four entities nationwide awarded an Environmental Justice Challenge Grant from the federal government. This grant provided CRCOG with an opportunity to develop formal methods and strategies to assure the equal distribution of the benefits and the burdens of the agency’s transportation decisions, especially as they concern low-income and minority groups. A Final Report and an Executive Summary contain an evaluation of how we address environmental justice and social equity issues in our transportation planning program. They include an Action Plan that outlines steps to be taken by CRCOG to improve our outreach to environmental justice populations. The Action Plan was approved by CRCOG's Policy Board in June 2002 and many of the Action Plan elements have already been implemented. These reports have been submitted to the federal government, and are being shared with public agencies throughout the country as a model for achieving EJ principles.
CRCOG has also prepared an Atlas of Minority and Low-Income Populations in the Capitol Region. The maps in this Atlas are proving useful in identifying areas with higher concentrations of the Environmental Justice populations, and in analyzing the distribution of transportation benefits and burdens as they relate to these populations.
One recommendation of the EJ Action Plan was to establish an Environmental Justice Advisory Board that would provide a review and evaluation of specific elements and products of our transportation-planning program as they relate to the principals of environmental justice. This group has already reviewed our TIP and our Transportation Work Program to insure that EJ issues are adequately addressed; they have helped establish some of the STP-Urban project selection criteria; and they will be providing valuable input for the update of the Region’s Long Range Transportation Plan. They meet on an as needed basis. Meeting agendas and minutes are posted below.
For more information about this project, contact Mario Marrero by email or at 860-522-2217, x233.
Outreach to Persons with Disabilities
CRCOG does not discriminate on the basis of disability. Individuals who need auxiliary aids to attend meetings or review documents are invited to make their needs known by contacting us by mail, phone, fax or email. Specific contact information is provided with each meeting notice and on each document. If you need assistance to attend and participate in a meeting, please give us as much notice as soon as possible.
Outreach to Persons with Limited Ability to Speak English
CRCOG recognizes the importance of including individuals that have difficulty speaking, reading, or understanding English in its transportation planning process, and is committed to making outreach to non-English speaking individuals a substantial focus of its public involvement effort. CRCOG has, therefore, adopted a policy of guidelines, entitled Reducing Language Barriers, to make CRCOG transportation programs more accessible to those who don’t speak English well. These guidelines address issues such as how, when, and where to provide meeting notices in alternate languages, where translation services might be needed, and when documents will be translated to ensure meaningful access to everyone.