Neighborhood associations to connect residents

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Huntingburg residents will soon have a new way to connect with each other and the government leaders who represent them.

At Tuesday night’s Huntingburg Common Council meeting, resident Amy Maxey led a presentation detailing a yet-to-launch neighborhood association program that is set to strengthen the fabric of the city’s social life.

“It really started from a social perspective,” Maxey explained in a phone interview after the meeting. “And just a desire to get to know the people around us and in our areas, and kind of pull the neighborhoods closer together. But since then, conversations with people have [yielded] so many great ideas of things we could do.”

Some of those possibilities include neighborhood cleanup days in which residents pitch in with their own supplies and equipment, or pitching in to help a neighbor going through a hard time.

A public meeting will be held at a to-be-determined location on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 13, to distribute more information about the initiative.

Maxey explained that according to the organizers’ research, social environments drive population growth.

“And so, as a desire to grow our local city, why not be welcoming?” she asked. “Why not be social?”

Though not a direct arm of the common council, councilmen Jeff Bounds and Tim Wehr have played a role in developing the entity and have supported its formation. Wehr said the group could act as a liaison between citizens and the councilmen.

“The primary purpose of this is, let’s get people talking,” Wehr said of how the program could help form that bridge. He explained that there are a large number of people who don’t want to speak publicly at the council’s meetings because they don’t want to see their names in the paper or their faces on television. The associations will give them another avenue of communication with local decision-makers.

Specific territories for associations have not been set, but they will generally be made up of homes that are within walking distance of each other. Big enough to be inclusive, but small enough to feel close-knit.
At the end of the day, each neighborhood has its own culture, Maxey said. She and her fellow organizers want to support those identities.

“Each association would have its own identity, but ultimately, we could all come together for the collective good of the community,” she said.

Together, she believes their collective will make a much stronger city. That umbrella group does not yet have a name, but the working title is the Huntingburg United Neighborhood Teams, or HUNT, a callback to the old Huntingburg High School Happy Hunters.

A timeline has not been set as to when the program will be up in running. Those interested in being part of a neighborhood association are encouraged to attend the Nov. 13 meeting. A location will be selected and published in the near future on the City of Huntingburg’s social media pages.

In her interview, Maxey was quick to credit her fellow organizers — Jennifer Schaeffer, Janet Schnell and Sarah Nicholson — who have all been instrumental in lifting the program off the ground.

“We are truly looking for involvement, and input and participation,” Maxey said. “We hope that others grasp onto this as we have.”




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