Success Stories

TRANSPORTATION

GCI has provided public involvement and public information services for a wide variety of transportation projects including widening local streets, siting and constructing new freeways, developing new transit center/park-and-ride facilities, extending light rail, and planning for new bus rapid transit service, regional paratransit services, and urban and rural transit programs. Outreach has been conducted during all phases of the projects from feasibility studies, to alternative analysis, NEPA planning, final design and construction. We also have expertise in complying with Federal Highway Administration guidelines for federally funded projects.

Spotlight: South Mountain Freeway EIS

When it came time to obtain public input on alternatives for a controversial freeway siting project, a litany of community activists and opponents to the project came sprouting out of the proverbial woodwork, and all meetings involving the freeway became almost a free-for-all. GCI worked with the state transportation agency to design a series of public forums to encourage a more civil discourse.

Each forum lasted nine hours and offered a wide variety of ways to learn more about the project and to evaluate the alternatives. Members of the project citizen advisory committee helped host the events. The meeting design included one large gathering room which included large color plots of the alternatives allowing residents to see how their property might be impacted. Also, available was a library which contained copies of all reports and staff to help answer technical questions.

Two smaller breakout rooms were used to give concurrent presentations on the project. The smaller rooms provided the opportunity to have presentations running throughout the day and kept the groups small enough so each person had an opportunity to have questions answered by staff.

Before leaving residents were encouraged to provide comment online by using the laptops available in the room, writing comments on a form and leaving in a box, or posting their thoughts on the “sticky wall” – a wall-sized, tacky cloth which allowed residents to write comments on an index card and post on the wall so their comments could be read by others.

More than 2,100 people participated in one of the forums and over 5,000 written comments were received and included in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Hear from Jim Dickey at
The Arizona Transit Association



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GOVERNMENT

Theresa provides a wide variety of services to local, state, regional and federal government agencies such as obtaining community input on upcoming bond elections, training board and commission members, facilitating citizen advisory committees, engaging residents in a community dialogue, updating a general plan, strategic planning with the city council, and mediating disputes with key stakeholders.

Spotlight: Speak Up Youngtown

In 2011, after implementing extensive cost cutting measures, the Town of Youngtown Council realized without additional revenue the Town would be bankrupt in just three years. As they began to research potential options, the Council realized they couldn’t move forward without a clear direction from its residents.

The Town hired GCI to facilitate a community conversation about the Town’s future. A community-wide conversation, Speak Up! Youngtown, began with a special feature in the local newspaper and included Town Hall meetings, presentations during community events, online survey, discussions at the local café, meeting with the business community and door to door survey of residents.

In just three weeks, approximately 1,000 residents (just under ¼ of the adult population) participated in the conversation. The residents agreed it was important to remain the Town of Youngtown and were willing to work with the council to identify potential new revenue streams.

 

Hear from Lloyce Robinson from
Youngtown Arizona



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NON – PROFITS

Theresa frequently facilitates non-profit organizations board of director retreats and assists them with strategic planning. She also provides pro bono services to a non-profit organization each year.

 

Spotlight: ACCION New Mexico

To celebrate their 10-year anniversary and plan for the next 10 years, ACCION hired Theresa to facilitate a two-day retreat in Santa Fe, New Mexico entitled “Remembering Yesterday, Celebrating Today and Dreaming of Tomorrow”.

During the retreat, participants shared how ACCION has touched their lives during its 10 year history. The participants identified the organization’s three most important innovations and future focus areas. On the second day after trying to keep a plethora of balloons afloat, the group narrowed the focus areas to those which would make the most impact on the community and developed individual goal statements.

By implementing the action plan developed during the retreat, the ACCION Board refocused the organization to better serve its micro-lending customers and the communities it serves.

 

Hear from David Schwartz at
Goodman-Schwartz Public Affairs



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ENVIRONMENT

For many years, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has used GCI as their go to facilitator for policy development and rulemaking for air, water and waste programs. The firm has also designed and implemented community outreach programs for national forest issues, clean-up of Superfund sites, effluent recharge projects and game and fish programs.

Spotlight: Regional Haze State Implementation Program (SIP)

When the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) had a short period of time to complete a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to reduce the increasing haze seen over many areas in Arizona, including the Grand Canyon, ADEQ directors hired GCI to design and implement an collaborative stakeholder and public involvement process to write a publically acceptable SIP by the regulatory deadline. GCI streamlined the stakeholder involvement process into the technical planning process, formed working groups, facilitated meetings, coordinated public meetings as needed and helped staff draft sections of the SIP.

GCI helped develop a series of advisory groups, working groups and conferences to find consensus among many of the business and community groups in attendance. The meetings resulted in the largest undertaking of a collaborative group in ADEQ history! The stakeholders were able to agree on the importance of the SIP and the need to work together to find solutions.

Over 300 business leaders, community organization representatives and members of the general public were involved in the collaborative process designed to identify the primary issues and jointly develop solutions when implemented would reduce haze at the Grand Canyon. ADEQ staff has taken much of this information into account to help find a common direction for future policies.

 

Hear from Mark Schafer at
ADEQ



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UTILITIES

GCI has provided community outreach services to power and water utilities. GCI engaged the community in helping design a new natural gas fired power plant and in developing above ground cask storage for nuclear waste. GCI also helped a power utility develop better stakeholder and community relationships. The firm facilitated a process for decommissioning a hydro power plant and helped water utilities develop a community outreach program and develop a sustainability plan.

Spotlight: Pinnacle West Energy-Redhawk Power Plant

Residents raised many concerns during the initial phases of siting the Pinnacle West Energy (PWE) Redhawk Power Plant. Many felt that groundwater wells would be severely impacted by the plant. There were also concerned about air quality impacts and an increase in local traffic.

PWE hired GCI to design a community outreach plan which would allow residents to be involved and help make designs during the plant’s design. Interviews were conducted to gain a better understanding of the community concerns and key issues. A community advisory panel was formed to provide ongoing communication and collaboration between the community and PWE. Public meetings were held to ensure all residents had an opportunity to be involved.

As a result of the outreach, PWE made several design changes including a process for deterring if area groundwater wells were being impacted, evaporation ponds were eliminated and the community was allowed to choose the exterior paint colors and have input into the entrance design. Residents also worked with the company to develop a pilot project with the University of Arizona to restore the land purchased for groundwater rights to desert from its previous use as farmland.

GCI’s facilitation and resources were instrumental in allowing the construction of the plant to become a growing part of the communities of Arlington and Tonopah, and created a sense of trust between the community and the plant’s operators.

 

Hear from Lance Decker at
L.L. Decker and Associates



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COMMUNITY

Community outreach programs have been implemented for urban planning and community development projects such as master planning a new community, to improving development services processes, creating a new general plan, and getting input on large community projects. Theresa also provided long-term support in managing community advisory panels for Intel Corporation

Spotlight: City of Scottsdale Ad Hoc Citizen Trails Task Force

GCI was hired by the City of Scottsdale to manage and facilitate an 84-member task force to update the city’s trails master plan and balance the needs and concerns of the equestrian users with the recreational bicyclists and pedestrians. Fifteen meetings were held between August 2008 and March 2009. After establishing ground rules including a code of conduct, the group agreed to a meeting schedule which included guest speakers with knowledge of cutting edge trail design, identification of potential trail corridors, creation of evaluation criteria and evaluation of more than 300 trail projects. Computerized decision- making software with wireless keypads was used to enable the participants to prioritize and weight the evaluation criteria.

At the conclusion of the process, the task force made a consensus recommendation to the City Council which included short- and long-term priorities for trail construction and recommended ordinance changes to address enforcement of trail use. The Council unanimously accepted the task force report.

 



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