Baby steps to NRP
Yesterday the City Council, in our Committee of the Whole, took two small but significant steps forward in our effort to make decisions about the present and future of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program and public support for neighborhood organizations.
Thanks primarily to the excellent report on the history and present condition of NRP that came back as a result of the staff direction we passed in May, we took the next step towards discussing and defining our City Government's position on NRP.
The first step we took was to help assure a level of funding for the remainder of Phase II. I would have liked us to at least explore funding at 100% of the projections we had in 2004, but was happy to second and support Council Member Ostrow's motion to direct staff to develop options for assuring funding at the 70% level.
Here is the staff direction we passed on that matter:
"Development Finance Staff is directed to work with CPED and other appropriate City staff to review and identify funding sources for the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) and provide this Council with a recommendation to prudently assure funding for Phase II Neighborhood Action Plans in an amount of not less than 70% of the approved April 19, 2004 NRP Policy Board allocations. Any recommendation should consider the City’s interests if unanticipated changes occur to the scheduled Brookfield repayment. Recommendations should be brought back to Ways and Means and Community Development Committees for Consideration by the City Council by December 21, 2007."
The discussion then got even more interesting when we tried to discuss the report and how to make the implied - and explicit - policy decisions we will need to make to determine the future of neighborhood revitalization efforts after 2009. While the Council is far from united on this issue, the discussion was good and several of us, including the Mayor, stressed the importance of neighborhood organizations to the city and the need for funding for basic capacity (administration) as well as discretionary funds that the neighborhoods could use to implement their own plans and targeted funds, in the form of specific grants, that further city goals.
Ultimately we were able to pass, unanimously (to my surprise) the following direction to ourselves and the City Coordinator:
"In order to facilitate decision-making relative to tracks 2 and 3 of the work plan for Community Engagement System Improvements and Related Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) Decisions, the City Council hereby requests that the Council President and Vice President work with the chairs of the Ways and Means/Budget Committee and the Intergovernmental Relations Committee, as well as a Mayoral representative and the NRP Director, to frame options and proposed actions for consideration by the Committee of the Whole at its meeting of December 6, 2007, establishing a City position on:
1. A proposed administrative structure to support community engagement activities;
2. Expectations of services community or neighborhood organizations would provide through citizen participation contracts; and
3. Extending or not a formal program of using discretionary funds for community-initiated projects.
The City Council further directs that the City Coordinator continue to support this work as needed."
I am very hopeful that these efforts, although small steps in and of themselves, will help us grapple with the challenging issues involved in the future of NRP and supporting our neighborhood organizations.