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Gainesville still looking for traffic study participants
City plans to call past volunteers
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The city of Gainesville still needs residents to participate in transportation focus groups, City Manager Kip Padgett said Friday.

The first focus group meeting, scheduled for last Thursday was canceled because of lack of interest.

At the Gainesville City Council work session that morning, however, council members and Public Utilities Director David Dockery decided to try again to interest residents.

The city has so far received responses from five people willing to give input.

“Unfortunately we’ve had very limited success in putting that group together,” Dockery told City Council members.

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, the area’s lead transportation planning agency, and Gainesville began earlier this month seeking public involvement as one part of a Gainesville transportation study.

The original plan was to gather a group of citizens and then the City Council would appoint two members from each district. When it was advertised, officials were looking for “interested participants” willing to commit to four meetings between February and June, including the one that had been set for last week.

“The process has been a bit fuzzy,” said Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras.

One citizen, Heitzso, his full legal name, was at the work session and was interested in participating. He was part of transportation focus groups about 10 years ago, he said. He hadn’t been called and there were 30 or more volunteers when the groups were formed last time.

“I’m not saying you’ve done anything wrong,” Heitzso said. “But I’m just saying there may be other avenues that I could introduce you to that might bring bodies together.”

Dockery met with Heitzso after the work session, and the city planned to call more people who have participated in its Citizen Government Academy in the past to find willing participants, Padgett said. The academy is a nine-week free class that educates residents on the city.

“We’ll go back to the drawing board on public outreach,” Dockery said.

Pond & Co., a Norcross-based engineering firm, was hired in October to serve as the consultant. The contract is for $125,000, with Gainesville paying $25,000 and the Federal Highway Administration $100,000.

The study is scheduled to be done by August.