Neighborhood associations to unite residents

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Getting to know neighbors is vital in creating a caring community in a neighborhood.

“You have to be intentional to building a welcoming neighborhood,” Huntingburg resident Amy Maxey told the 25 people who attended Tuesday’s meeting about creating neighborhood associations. “We know that social neighborhoods often yield population growth. So let’s be welcoming to folks. And let’s help grow our city.”

Maxey is working with other residents and city officials to create the neighborhood association structure. That structure is called the Huntingburg United Neighborhood Team, or HUNT.

But it will be up to residents to create the association in their neighborhoods.

“We just want to get to know the folks who are around us,” Maxey said.

Neighborhood associations are a vehicle through which neighbors can meet each other and work together on ideas for enhancing their neighborhoods.

“A neighborhood association expands beyond homeowners,” Maxey explained. “It includes renters, business owners, the buildings, the parks, the churches, all public spaces that are within the particular boundaries of the association.”

Associations can be used to express neighbors’ concerns. “Maybe they’re not comfortable coming in front of the council,” Maxey said. “It stands as a means of enhancing the communication with the council. It allows your voices to be heard in a different venue.”

Kayla Johnson, neighborhood association coordinator for the City of Marion, talked about the setup and effectiveness of neighborhood associations.

In Marion, there are 20 neighborhood associations. They all have their own goals that are specific to their areas, she said.

One neighborhood revamped a park, Johnson said as an example. Other neighborhoods host block parties or community festivals. Some conduct clothing and canned food drives. Some bring in speakers to their meetings or have monthly social gatherings.

“There are many things your neighborhood associations can do,” Johnson said.

She mentioned that when the city worked on its comprehensive plan in 2010, neighborhood associations were helpful in distributing information about the plan, getting residents to share their thoughts on the plan and getting that feedback to city officials.

That would be helpful to the city, as Huntingburg is in the midst of updating the city’s comprehensive plan, called My Home-My Huntingburg. The neighborhood association structure could become part of that plan, Mayor Denny Spinner said.

Associations help residents get to know their neighbors. “If you know your neighbors, you can be proactive for each other,” Johnson said. “It’s good to have those relationships and have people looking out for you. Knowing your neighbors creates a sense of community.

“Neighborhood associations can be an organized as a way to give you an excuse to get to know your neighbors.”

Association areas can be formed by using obvious boundaries, Johnson said, like a heavily trafficked road, train tracks, city council precincts, zoning districts, subdivision boundaries, parks or a manufacturing area.

She suggested that residents who are interested in forming an association get in touch with their council representative and work with him to develop a flyer with information they can take to their neighbors. “Then take the flyer and go door to door,” she said. A neighborhood meeting could then be held to talk about goals, she said.

Another neighborhood association informational meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, at City Hall, 508 E. Fourth St.

Anyone interested in neighborhood associations in Huntingburg can contact Maxey at 812-661-0599 or AmyLMaxey@gmail.com. They can also contact Councilman Jeff Bounds at 812-630-1285 or jeffreylbounds@gmail.com. A Facebook page has been created, named “HUNT - Huntingburg United Neighborhood Team.”

“At the end of the day, it’s really about coming together and strengthening the community,” Maxey said. “We’re all in this together.”




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