GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids City Commission held a ‘Commission Night Out’ on Tuesday, the first since the start of the pandemic.

The commission is holding an event in each ward for “neighbor engagement sessions,” the city said in a release. On Tuesday night at Sibley Elementary School, leaders asked for input from residents living in the area.

Residents were encouraged to talk about the livability of their neighborhood.

“Tonight is an important night for us to engage with our residents,” City Manager Mark Washington said. “We get a chance to have more deliberative dialogue. That’s something we typically cannot have in a formal city commission (meeting), we just hear from the public. But tonight is more a dialogue where we get to interact with them.”

Some residents spoke with Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Eric Winstrom about public safety.

GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom speaks with residents at a Commission Night Out event on Aug. 23, 2022.

“I think this is going to give us an opportunity to actually sit down and have conversations,” Winstrom told News 8. “Because how the commission meeting is set up for public comment is individuals … line up at a podium, they speak to the commission. And I’m always there and I’m always listening, but there’s no conversation.”

Winstrom said the Commission Night Out event gives more opportunities to talk with residents.

“This is kind of a cool set up where you’re sitting at a table with people and they can tell you what’s on their mind and they can ask you questions,” he said. “You have the opportunity to go back and forth with them.”

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss was also at the event.

Childcare was provided for residents attending. More Commission Night Out events are planned for September and October.