Strategic Neighborhood Plan Update
by Barbara Sysak
A primary initiative of your Central Gardens Association for fiscal year 2016-2017 was the development of a new Strategic Plan for the neighborhood. To assure that this plan was created with your input and ideas, “listening sessions” with over 100 total participants were held throughout the neighborhood and a survey, completed by 400 of your neighbors, was conducted. The 2016 Strategic Neighborhood Plan will help guide the Central Gardens Association for the next 3-5 years.
The listening sessions and survey results provided a road map for the plan that concentrates on the neighborhood’s needs and residents’ quality of life. Three main “pillars” of focus emerged and are defined here:
Green Spaces and Infrastructure- protect and enhance the historic nature and beauty of the neighborhood.
Community Building & Events- increase neighborliness through facilitating block and quadrant parties rather than neighborhood-wide events.
Midtown Relationships- develop relationships between our neighborhood and other neighborhoods, schools, retail and other organizations around common issues.
Not only did the board seek to learn where residents would prefer the Association target its focus, but we also recognized that if our focus were to change, our structure would need to be modified as well. Organizational changes include:
- The creation of Pillar Leaders, one for each area of focus. These Pillar Leaders are now part of the Executive Committee
- The development of a new format and calendar for board meetings. The board now meets six times a year and each meeting is strategic in nature. The details of committee work now occur at the pillar level.
- The creation of a decision matrix to help guide board decision-making. The decision matrix helps the board determine when to offer an official viewpoint, when to advocate on specific issues or when to simply educate or facilitate. This was a recommendation from our strategic plan facilitator.
The pillar leaders and neighborhood volunteers have accomplished quite a bit in just eight months. Below is a list of the accomplishments:
We learned through the listening sessions that residents would like block-centered events that they can put on themselves, with some assistance and guidance from the Association. Central Gardens Association helped facilitate National Night Out and Cop Stop events in the neighborhood.
Block Party Tool-Kit
Linden Avenue has been hosting a Block Party for 19 years! CGA has engaged Sarah Blackburn of Linden so that we can develop and share a Block Party Took Kit, based on Linden’s success. Sarah has also joined the board and is chair of the Communication Committee. Thanks, Sarah for bringing your expertise to the board.
We worked with our neighbor associations and other stakeholders in Midtown on a common issue- improving our park. Click here to read about CGA's involvement with the Overton Park Alliance.
Members of the Central Gardens board have been on hand at meetings where the expansion of an industrial complex in Midtown has been reviewed and discussed. It is argued that this expansion may impede walkability and biking in and around Overton Square, a family friendly destination for all Midtowners. Central Gardens Association is helping to educate and engage our fellow neighbors who have a personal stake in an issue.
Safety and Security
In December, the CGA Safety Committee held a Neighborhood Watch meeting where residents gathered to learn more about safety in general and what is being done to combat crime. On hand were Harold Collins of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission and Philip Spinosa, City Council Member. Harold spoke about Operation: Safe Community and specifically addressed crime rates, gang activity, the recent reduction in police force, issues with blight, and more. Philip Spinosa spoke about the "SkyCop"program and the pro’s and con’s of various crime deterrent options.
Green Spaces and Infrastructure
To help improve our neighborhood infrastructure, CGA will form ad-hoc committees to engage neighbors for special projects. These projects may include connecting city support services to work on infrastructure problems like alleys, missing or damaged signs, graffiti, illegal dumping, weeds, potholes, missing or blocked drain covers, litter, missing street lights, etc. Participation in the SWEEP program is part of those efforts. Click here to learn more.
Neighborhood Walkability & Pedestrian Evaluation
Volunteers are currently working on a walkability initiative, evaluating the condition of our sidewalks. This effort came out of the Listening Sessions and is a part of the 2016 Strategic Neighborhood Plan. To date, one quarter of the neighborhood has been evaluated using a tool provided by Liveable Memphis. The team is currently researching numerous national best practices for sidewalk repair.
Historic Landmarks Redo
The CGA Landmark's committee works closely with the Memphis Landmark’s Commission and is charged with addressing issues related to the neighborhood’s architectural heritage and design guidelines. The CGA Landmarks Committee recognized that our neighbors need more consultation on the front end when submitting an Appropriateness Application. This gives our neighbors more time to review and alter plans before the Commission reviews them formally. See our new webpage, located under "Resources" for how the committee can help you navigate the architectural guidelines and Memphis Landmarks Commission's Certificate of Appropriateness application. Also under Resources, you will see a link to "311 Direct" a simple way for neighbors to report problems to the city as well as code enforcement.