1. Start on time
2. Publish an agenda
3. Have a few specific discussion (or decision) points that the meeting is centered around
The future of Nash Farm meeting failed on pretty much all of these. The meeting started 30 minutes late. There was no published agenda. The specific discussion items were never defined. If you were trying to design an unproductive meeting, I’m not sure you could design one better than the one last night.
On Thursday night, around one hundred or so Grapevine residents showed up at the Founders Building at 6:30 pm for a meeting requesting public input on Nash Farm. The first problem was that there were not enough chairs for everyone. A decision was made to start the meeting late so that the city could go find some more chairs.
By 7 pm the chairs had not arrived so someone decided to start the meeting. If you guessed that a bunch of metal folding chairs showed up 5 minutes later that were so noisy that they shut down the meeting, you would be exactly right.
After a short presentation by the city, the residents were then asked to sit at tables discussing the future of Nash Farm for 30 minutes. Only we weren’t given a list of things to discuss or options to decide on. So we spent the first half of our 30 minutes talking about what we are being asked to decide on. How productive do you think the 30 minutes were?
There were some poster displays around the room that defined a couple of decision points. One decision was on what type of fence to put up around the farm. The other was which architectural drawing we preferred out of A, B, or C. Bad news, unless you are an architect they basically all looked the same. There was not even a short summary explaining the differences between the three renderings.
After we reached our quick conclusions on those choices, representatives from each table were asked to give a five minute presentation on what the table concluded. The funniest part was the professional facilitator that the city hired kept thanking everyone for being respectful of everyone’s time. Hey, how respectful was it of everyone’s time to kick off the whole meeting 30 minutes after its scheduled start?
After the group presentations, individual residents were then allowed three minutes each to speak their piece if they so desired. I’ll try to put together a short summary of some of the conclusions:
Some people wanted a fence. Some didn’t.
Some people wanted additional buildings. Some didn’t.
A number of people wanted Nash Farm to apply for a historical designation. (we are surprised this has not already been done.)
A number of people just did not want it to turn into an amusement park.
There were concerns on the hours for the farm the city was setting which are 10 am to 5 pm.
Some people wanted to furnish the house. Some didn’t. But then we found out a decision had been made and the city is picking up furnishings this weekend.
Did I mention a list of decision points would have been helpful? This was literally like watching a dumpster fire.
One of the things we asked at our table was how much does all this stuff cost? That type of information would typically be helpful when making decisions. We were told by one man at our table to pretend there is a blank check. Cool.
It felt a lot like the city was asking for input, but they never presented what the choices were.
Anyone else think most of the decisions have already been made?