Orland Park Uses Online Forum to Set the Record Straight

May 3, 2016 – OpenGov


It’s often said that a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. But, the Village of Orland Park has found a way to give truth a leg-up in that race.

The Illinois village is taking the rumor mill head-on with The Grapevine, a standing online invitation for residents to talk about any hot topics and hearsay that are buzzing around the community. Village staff can then respond on the forum to separate fact from fiction.

So far, the online conversation has ranged from local crime, to neglected properties, to unsightly billboards. Each time a question or concern is raised, staff sets the record straight, often providing links to resources so residents can find more information.

For example, a new housing development has a lot of residents talking, as evidenced in the forum question posted below:

I have heard a rumor that there are Section 8 tenants in the Ninety7Fifty apartments. Is that correct?

Village staff promptly responds with the facts:

Hello, and thank you for taking the time to join our Virtual Town Hall discussions and post a question.

That is not correct. Ninety7Fifty is a luxury apartment community that leases at market rates.

Ninety7Fifty leases begin at $1500/month for a one bedroom unit, well in excess of the maximum amount allowed for vouchers in Cook County.

Or, take this case in point, when one resident asks for an update on a project:

What happened to the unfinished property near Collette Highlands/Cenential Park West? I live nearby.

Again, village staff uses the online interaction as an opportunity to educate:

Thank you for visiting our Virtual Town Hall and for the great question.

The property was approved for the “Townhomes at Colette Highlands,” a 60-unit townhome development. Once plans are finalized, construction will be underway on the remaining 3.6 acres of the former Colette Highlands Condominiums property.

If you need more clarification, you can contact our Development Services Department at (708) 403-5300.

The helpful and civil dialogue is working well. So well, in fact, it was recently the subject of a satirical piece in The Chicago Tribune by a columnist who was bemoaning the lack of drama—which, he sarcastically argues, makes it really tough on writers who “rely on name-calling, bickering and personal attacks for their livelihoods.”

At OpenGov, we’re continually inspired by our clients who think outside the box, such as this approach in Orland Park. If you’d like help developing a standing topic similar to this for your forum, or if you have any follow-up questions, we encourage you to contact your Customer Success Manager.

Category: Civic Engagement