State Rep. (and former councilman) Michael Schlossberg also attended, as did Sara Hailstone, the city’s community & economic development director.

Some public forums involve everyone sitting in an auditorium and people going to microphones to offer suggestions. But Calluori said that limits the number of people who can speak and how long they can speak. And Pawlowski said a lot of folks won’t stand up in such a forum because they are shy about speaking in front of a room full of people.

The mayor said Tuesday’s approach also gave everyone an opportunity to be heard, rather than just a few people dominating the conversation.

 The first “open house” was done in early June for Allen High School students and 200 participated, said Callouri. The second was at the America on Wheels Museum in mid-June and about 75 people attended.

She said addressing abandoned and rundown properties was the top priority to come out of the session at America on Wheels.

The program in Central Elementary started at 6:30 p.m. Before 8 p.m., officials staffing various stations around the room realized they were pretty much just looking at each other and began taking down their easels.

“We can do more of these,” said Calluori. “We’ve not scheduled any but we’re not closing the door on doing them. It is important for us to get the public’s input.”

Information gathered at the three public sessions will be reviewed by a new community development advisory board being created by the mayor.

That board will use the results to help finalize the city’s community development strategy. It also will work on how to implement specific goals, including how they will be funded.

That board will consist of 15 to 20 people, both city residents and business operators, said Calluori. She said it will meet for the first time in August and that information about priorities for community development will be posted on the city’s website by autumn.co

But she said implementing priorities will take time, adding it will be done over the next several years.

Calluori said the advisory board being created by the mayor will be representative of the community and that board will continue to provide input to the community & economic development department for a couple of years.

Pawlowski said that advisory board may decide to hold more public meetings, but they may focus on specific priority issues raised at these initial sessions.  

The city is encouraging anyone who missed Tuesday’s program to e-mail their comments and suggestions to feedback@allentownpa.gov.