TOPEKA (KSNT) — Topeka’s City Council had a special meeting this week instead of their normal weekly meetings. The main focus on their agenda was improving communications.

The city officials and staff held a brainstorming session, hosted by University of Kansas consulting services manager, Patty Grentrup. A former city administrator who works with governing bodies to help them reach their goals.

Providing local governing bodies a neutral party in the room, that acts as a “safe space.” To help stimulate growth and an open line of dialogue between the city officials and staff. 

Gentrup had the participants break into groups to discuss mock case studies. One case study regarded apartment buildings’ residents wanting a crosswalk and how each official would communicate with their staff to make a decision on if they should or not build one.

The purpose of the exercise was to conceptualize creative ways to work together. Topeka Mayor, Michael Padilla, was part of the discussion. Padilla says Gentrup’s involvement in tonight’s work session was invaluable.

“So her presence here lends credibility to what we are talking about and makes people feel more comfortable that they are not on the spot,” Padilla said. “Giving us feedback that we can use in our discussion [is] extremely important.”

City leaders hope improved working relationships will help them better address the city”s ongoing problems. They hope Tuesday’s brainstorming will help improve efficiency as they continue to tackle projects across the city.