Peoria is a city of neighborhoods, each steeped in a great tradition of history and commitment to our community. Many of our neighborhoods have organized into neighborhood associations, providing grassroots leadership fundamental to the continued progress of our city.
The Planning and Growth Management Department of the City of Peoria has worked diligently to organize and assist the 92 neighborhood associations with projects that will both improve and grow our neighborhoods. While commercial and business development is important to our city’s future, emphasis on the concerns and issues affecting renewal of our neighborhoods will always be a top priority. Our commitment to safe and healthy neighborhood environments is made possible through a strong partnership between the city and resident organizations.
In 1997, the city took a major step in furthering the physical and social strengths of our community by organizing the Neighborhood Development Commission (NDC). This group of 21 appointed individuals, including a mix of residents, business leaders, non-profit representatives, and city council members, are committed to assisting the organizational needs of the many neighborhood associations throughout Peoria.
First and foremost, the commission serves as a strategic planning resource by allocating community development block grant funds while continually seeking additional financial support. In 2002, the commission received more than $480,000 federal and corporate dollars to support a variety of initiatives. These projects range from landscape and beautification efforts to crime prevention and safety improvements. The NDC has also been successful in assisting with affordable housing opportunities through collaborative efforts with non-profit housing agencies. The NDC helped lead the effort to develop the city’s Affordable Housing Plan.
The NDC also provides an organized lobbying outlet to the city staff and the council. The commission has developed a strong rapport with a variety of city departments, all of which help promote a positive neighborhood environment. The commission maintains an active presence at city council functions, representing the interests of neighborhood and homeowners associations. These activities have led to an increase in participation and response time to neighborhood requests and concerns.
By providing recognition and support for both neighbors and neighborhoods that dedicate their time to bettering their community, the NDC has been active in rewarding successful neighborhood initiatives and giving credit to the individuals who show a commitment to improvement efforts. The NDC has also proven to be a very effective umbrella for the neighborhoods across Peoria. The NDC provides valuable leadership and administrative support, but it’s the individual homeowner and neighborhood associations that are largely responsible for the implementation of neighborhood improvements.
The strong partnership between the City of Peoria and the hardworking citizen leadership of the individual associations has produced tangible results. Associations improve when citizens take action and become involved. A good example is the Olde Towne South Neighborhood Association. After displaying strong resident cohesiveness and commitment to neighborhood improvement, the Olde Town South Association was chosen as the Priority Neighborhood for 2002. Ultimately, the neighborhood received more than $120,000 of city investment, along with an additional $44,000 private investment for a variety of improvements.
To continue the success of our neighborhood renewal efforts, it’s important that our neighborhood citizen leadership be provided opportunities to share knowledge and learn from each other. The Neighborhood Development Division is currently seeking sponsorships for the 2003 Regional Neighborhood Network Conference this fall in Evansville, Ind. If you or your organization is interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact our Planning and Growth Management office.
Since 1997, Peoria has emerged as a leader among other communities with our strong commitment to neighborhoods and homeowners. I encourage all Peorians to take the time and become involved with your local neighborhood association. Our city has many things to offer, and our neighborhoods are what make it all possible. IBI