Friday, July 24, 2009

More on Neighborhood Organizations

Received this email in response to the question about other neighborhood organizations in Carbondale (posted with permission):

There are other neighborhood organizations though they are less "formally" organized than the Arbor District. One such example is the the Oaklawn Neighborhood in the southwest corner of .About four neighborhood groups meet regularly on the first Wednesday of the month, 5 pm at Carbondale City Hall. This is called the Carbondale Study Circles Neighborhood and Housing Action Group. Ir was started some five years ago. The Neighborhood and Housing Action Group formulates programs and polices that address neighborhood needs. Examples of our work include the development of city transparency in leasing and zoning policies, yearly Neighborhood Alliance meetings and the training and organizing for a neighborhood based emergency preparedness program, Map Your Neighborhood (MYN).
I h ave been a member of this group since its inception. I am also an Arbor District member. The Neighborhood and Housing Action Group also met with the Consultants consultants on the Comprehensive plan. It has been an agenda item at our meeting for the past two year. Though I was unable to attend the meeting here is a portion of my letter. It reflects major topics of discussion at our meetings:
Increasing neighborhood safety and deterring the decline of housing stock and home ownership in Carbondale’s neighborhoods is a focus of our work. With this in mind, I recommend that:
1. A formal relationship between crime prevention, City/University planning and neighborhoods be established. Programmatically this would mean the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) would be integrated into all land use regulation (i.e. the Comprehensive Plan, zoning ordinances, subdivision regulation, landscape, architectural design and access for the physically and mentally challenged);
2. Performance Standards be utilized in neighborhoods. Many of our neighborhoods are already mixed use especially with respect to mixed residential use. This mix of zoning exists without the controls of performance standards which mitigate the issues that arise when different types of land use are in close proximity—lighting, parking, buffering, etc.;
3.Encourage more owner occupancy and the number of “stake holders” living in Carbondale by continuing and expanding programs for converting rental properties to owner occupied. This is particularly significant now as the growth in new rental properties is increasing the availability of single family homes. There is growing concern regarding the impact of vacant rental housing in neighborhoods such as the Arbor District. Conversion of this rental property to owner occupied should be one strategy in a plan to address this issue.
4. The staffing of the department largely responsible for the oversight and implementation of the Comprehensive Plan, Development Services, has been restructured and depleted. Successful development, implementation and evaluation of the above mention polices and programs will require more staff. A Neighborhood Planner is needed. This planner would assist neighborhoods work on CPTED, MYN as well, cultivate neighborhood organizations/leadership. More hires in code enforcement are needed.
Thank You for Your Efforts and Time,
Mary O’Hara, PhD
Study Circles, Neighborhood and Housing Action Group

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