Initiated in 2009, the City Manager’s Neighborhood Impact Initiative is a five-year program designed to apply a concentration of resources to address a variety of neighborhood needs. As it begins its third year the program will on to the Back Central neighborhood, one of the city’s most densely developed areas.
The Neighborhood Impact Initiative focuses on low and moderate income neighborhoods utilizing an interdepartmental strategy to provide infrastructure, public safety, housing, traffic and business development improvements. Funding for these improvements comes primarily from the Community Block Grant Program. The first Impact Initiative was the Bridge Street corridor in Centralville; last year it was the Lower Highlands.
“Neighborhood problems such as crime, housing conditions and neglected infrastructure often go hand in hand,” said City Manager Bernie Lynch. “By concentrating resources on all of these issues within a specific area, positive results are magnified and there is a greater impact on a neighborhood’s quality of life. Our goal is to make investments that produce both short and long term improvements.”
A community meeting held on Saturday, September 10 at St. Anthony’s Parish Hall provided area residents the opportunity to discuss the program and City staff members to hear directly from residents about neighborhood needs and potential opportunities. These ideas will help define specific program projects.
Street and sidewalk reconstruction work along Central Street has already begun. Development Services, Police, and Fire inspectors will conduct team “sweeps” of areas identified as “hot spots” for crime, housing and code issues.
“We will work closely with the Back Central Neighborhood Association in identifying, planning and implementing the most effective projects for their neighborhood,” said Manager Lynch. “The input and involvement of neighborhood groups and residents has been a cornerstone of the strategy and critical to the program’s success.”
Centralville and Lower Highlands projects included the enhancement of parks and playgrounds as well as business façades and signage, stepped-up code enforcement and improvements to traffic and parking.
“This was a big help to improve some areas that were in desperate need,” said Centralville Neighborhood Action Group President Ann Marie Page.
Added Taya Dixon Mullane, president of the Lower Highlands Neighborhood Group, “I can’t say enough how the neighborhood initiative is making tangible, positive changes to our two neighborhood parks!”