Thursday, November 5, 2009


Every day we all encounter things that we would like to see improved in our community--the poorly up kept property across the street, the safety of their kids on their way to school.

The decisions the council makes are aimed at improving our citizen's daily lives. But, ultimately, we rely on the citizens to help us direct our resources. The best tools the city has for addressing needs are our neighborhood associations.

I have visited many of our neighborhood associations. I've shared information about planned neighborhood improvements, learning about specific neighborhood issues. In Scenic Heights I even got to be present for the birth of a new association. Every meeting is a reminder for me of the central role of neighborhoods in our city.

Neighborhood associations help us get the right city services to each neighborhood. The city has a number of programs available to help associations build their neighborhoods. These include the Pensacola Community Initiatives Program (PCIP) grants, neighborhood planning, and an urban infill program. Many associations have city staff give presentations at their regular meetings, like safety presentations by the police or fire departments, or have councilmembers speak on city issues and hear concerns.

The PCIP grants, in particular, are a great resource for neighborhoods and the city. They are a matching grant for neighborhood improvements, with the city providing dollars and neighborhoods matching with cash, in-kind contributions, or volunteer time. Recent project from these grants include new gazebos in East Hill and Eastgate, entryway signs, right of way landscaping, and park improvements. Applications for the next cycle of PCIP grants are being accepted until Dec 11--more information is available.

Associations also push for additional improvements or targeted services. For example, Cordova Park lobbied hard for sidewalks, which they recently got. Others might request increased code enforcement activity or traffic calming. By coming together the residents can speak with a louder voice.

And ultimately, building community comes down to knowing your neighbors. Associations organize movies in the park and Christmas celebrations, things that help neighbors know neighbors. These relationships are the backbone of our community.

City government, government of all kinds, is a partnership with the citizens. However we structure our government, those in the leadership positions need advisers, need citizens to speak up and share their ideas, thoughts, and concerns.

If you want to get involved in your neighborhood association but need more information, let me know. Or if you don't have an association and would like to start one, I can help get you the right resources so that together we can create the Pensacola we all know it can be.