After several years of being dormant, the Historic Northside Neighborhood Association held a sort of revitalization meeting Tuesday evening at the landmark Cleveland Street Associate Presbyterian Church.
One of the main purposes was to determine whether enough interest existed to reactivate the organization.
A good answer to that question is that nearly 50 people showed up, showed enthusiasm and were engaged in the discussion.
Ward One Alderman Jeff Olson, Police Chief Chris Robertson and Fire Chief Steve Coker represented the city, talking about progress that had been made in the neighborhood as well as concerns and challenges.
One early point of agreement among the group was that the North Side is much safer than it was several years ago and the problem with substandard rental property is also much better, although some work needs to be done concerning basic yard maintenance.
In fact, the discussion came around to the conclusion that the neighborhood’s biggest problem is image rather than reality. Some of those present said people still think of it as “the bad part of town” when that has not been true for a long time. Also, more people are moving to the neighborhood, some from out of town, and couples are discovering they can buy a good older well-built home cheaply, put some money in it and end up with a home worth several times what they spent on it.
Although the discussion was only preliminary, those present talked about improving the “branding” of the North Side, using signs, selective landscaping and fix-up, promoting the neighborhood for its cultural and arts value and other ideas.
“We are what we say we are,” summed up attorney Bob Cornelius, who lives on Alabama Street.
Cornelius was elected new president and Sean Johnson, vice-president. Because this was a first meeting of sorts, further action concerning choosing officers, whether to have a board or directors or standing committees was delayed until the intent is a little clearer.
Those present will be put on a mailing list so they can be notified of meetings and projects.
Initially, the organization will meet at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month in the fellowship hall of the Presbyterian Church, thanks to the generosity of members, several of whom were present and will be active in HNNA.
Everyone was urged to think about goals and needs for the organization before the next meeting and it was emphasized the group must integrate its ideas into things that will improve downtown as well, and that to be really successful it would be good to work with other groups in other parts of town.