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Wednesday night, planners held a community workshop and guided about 25 residents in using visual building blocks to express the characteristics they’d like to see in their community. The future Purple Line stations will change the neighborhood’s character and opportunities. This workshop and upcoming workshops are a chance for the community to define its future.

They began with maps, markers, and photos—the visual building blocks—and after talking about what they want their community to be—a place where you can walk to a hardware store or ride your bike to the park, they started to put their ideas on paper.

Planners Kathy Reilly and John Marcolin said the people here know their community and all its issues, an even though there was some skepticism, by the end of the night, everyone had their hands all over the maps.

The workshop was an effort to ensure that community views shape the plan’s recommendations. The maps and pictures they created are just the physical expression of their knowledge and ideas.

Next Wednesday, April 28, at the Long Branch Library, planners will bring back the ideas, which they will have distilled into possible development scenarios and areas of common vision. From tracing paper to pavement, this is where the plan begins.