The State College Borough website is giving community members a new way to voice their opinions without even leaving their home.
The website has a new feature — an online forum for community members to voice their opinions.
The forum, called Engage State College, has been in the works for some time now but has only been available to the public the last few weeks, said Cathy Dauler, a member of the State College Borough Council.
Aside from other citizens, council members will also be reading the comments, and hopefully taking them into account, Dauler said.
Users can make statements by answering whatever question is up for debate. The current question, according to the website, is “If you could change something about downtown State College, what would you change and why?”
The question runs in correlation with the latest plan to improve the State College area, Dauler said.
The State College Borough, Downtown State College Inc. and Penn State have partnered with Mahan Rykiel Associates, Inc. and Arnett Muldrow & Associates to create a “Downtown Master Plan,” to better improve downtown State College, as previously reported.
Along with posting their own thoughts on the website, users can click the “support” button to express their agreement with other comments — similar to the “like” feature on Facebook.
The website requires users to give their name and home address, to ensure that only local residents can make posts. However, the website states that all personal information will remain confidential.
Engage State College is part of the Open Town Hall program, created by the company Peak Democracy, said company CEO Robert Vogel.
Peak Democracy uses Open Town Hall in more than 50 different cities and state agencies across the nation.
“It is intended to broaden public trust in government,” Vogel said.
As of press time Monday, the current question on the forum had fourteen responses, with suggestions ranging from making Allen Street pedestrian only to increasing student housing.
While the online forum is relatively new, the borough has high hopes for its progress.
“The comments that have been made seem very thoughtful to me,” Dauler said. “I'm hoping that it does become a popular mechanism for people to feel they can have an opportunity to participate.”