The Osprey Group
the need to make a timely decision and to the need to have more openness within the
community as alternatives are explored.
We think this type of approach has great potential, but only under certain conditions. It
has been our experience that the additional time devoted to such as effort can pay
dividends in reaching a decision that has considerable understanding and support from
the community and addresses the needs of the stakeholders. These efforts are more
appropriate as complexity rises. So the good news is that a collaborative process can
increase public understanding about the nature and magnitude of the challenge, the range
of alternatives that might address the problem, and the impacts associated with the
alternatives. It is a helpful way to ensure community priorities are truly reflected in the
criteria used to evaluate alternatives, and it may lead to better solutions.
At the same time, collaborative efforts can add little if the necessary ingredients for
success are not in place. Under the worst conditions they translate into more time and
resources being spent on a controversial issue and no resolution. Some we interviewed
voiced the concern that a collaborative effort might be used as a tactic to delay or kill the
project. Several necessary conditions need to be in place for a collaborative process to be
There must be clarity about the purpose and charge for the effort.
Key decision-makers, such as ODOT, FHWA and the cooperating agencies need to
be involved and supportive.
There must be a willingness on the part of all to listen to and authentically consider
alternatives for addressing the challenge.
The process must be convened without a predetermined solution and as an
opportunity to find a potentially better solution.
Participants must come to the table in good faith and be committed to finding a
The group being convened must be representative and balanced and be seen as such.
Members of the group can represent particular perspectives, but they must be able to
listen and consider a range of options.
The time and financial resources for such an effort must be in place.
How reimbursement for the NEPA review and funding for the project construction would
be affected under this option is unclear. Some have told us that failure to select a
We find it particularly valuable to have a number of individuals in the group who are well respected and
civic minded. Even though it is important to have some who might have good reasons to be for or against a
proposed project, it is often most helpful to have citizens who bring obvious credibility and strong
commitment to the community; we call these individuals the "radical middle." One person spoke of the
usefulness of such people by saying, "Consultants and ODOT often hear from the vocal minority the most."