History

We will try to post a little history of our formation and efforts, as time permits. Scroll down this page to read about our fifth anniversary.

Our Beginnings
The idea of seeking cooperation between neighborhood organizations began with a modest coalition of neighbors, landlords and other groups who cooperated in opposing an enormous for-profit student dormitory on the west side of town. That coalition, the South Maple Group, had some initial success. The first proposal for a planned development was rejected by Council. That developer eventually received approval for a smaller plan, but was unable to finance the project. The site remains empty.

What became apparent in the South Maple effort was that any neighborhood can only expect the support of its two council members. Creating broad-based coalitions allows other groups to help by lobbying council members from other wards of the city. A long-time neighborhood activist from the northwest side of the city reached out to the South Maple Group with an invitation to help form a city-wide coalition. In September 2008, invitations were emailed to neighborhood leaders throughout the city.

On Wednesday October 1, 2008, a meeting was held at the downtown library to investigate whether sufficient interest existed in forming a neighborhood group. More than three dozen folks attended that meeting. No one spoke against the idea of forming a new coalition. We set up committees to oversee issues and governance. In retrospect, issues of governance were critical to the eventual structure of this group.

There are few issues that could ever find universal support from all areas of town. Early in the formation of this group, it became apparent that taking unified positions by majority vote might lead to losing members. We needed to find a way to accommodate differing positions while assisting those with common goals.

A second meeting was held on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at the First Baptist Church. At that meeting we discussed governance and structure. In essence, the Alliance consisted of a group of leaders. Who can lead a group of leaders? We concluded that the group would be predicated on communication rather than meetings and positions. Everyone involved had more than enough meetings to attend. Thus, the second meeting was the last time the group met.

The Alliance now engages in robust on-line discussion through its email list. As observed in the early period of its existence, there is rarely a consensus on any particular topic. What members of the Alliance share is a firm belief that the neighborhoods should be stakeholders in city decision making.

When the Neighborhood Alliance formed, the City Council included: Mayor John Hieftje, Councilmembers Ronald Suarez, Stephen Rapundalo, Joan Lowenstein, Leigh Greden, Marcia Higgins, Margie Teall, Christopher S. Easthope, Mike Anglin and Sabra Briere. From 2008 to 2012, Councilmembers Suarez, and Lowenstein left Council. Additionally, Council members Rapundalo and Greden were defeated (by Lumm and Kunselman). Councilmembers Sandi Smith, Carsten Hohke and Tony Derezinski were elected but have departed. As of November 2012, Council will have a remarkably different composition.

Five Years!
This was posted on the front page on October 1, 2013 to mark our fifth anniversary.

On Wednesday October 1, 2008 at about 7:00 pm, a group of more than three dozen of  "the usual suspects" met in the 3rd floor Conference Room at the Main Public Library. That meeting led to the formation of this group, the Neighborhood Alliance. Upon our fifth anniversary, We'd like to reflect on some of what has happened since that first meeting.

Early on we discovered that neighborhood activists were interested in cooperating, but did not need more meetings to attend. We discontinued meeting after our second gathering. Another early lesson was that a group of neighborhood leaders does not need leadership. We abandoned our early idea of having officers and committees.

Our early goal was to have neighborhood groups be treated as stakeholders in local policy making decisions. What most of us had in common was some experience where our neighborhood sought the assistance of our elected Council members and were treated as if we were the adversary, rather than their constituents.

In our five years we have won some (the Moravian) and lost some (City Place and 413 E Huron). We think the discussion we have today about what constitutes appropriate development is somewhat different than we saw in the Greden era. The City is finally reexamining the flaws in the A2D2 plan. Perhaps Council will revisit the Area Height and Placement regulations before we see the unintended consequences of that plan. We hold out great hope for the R4C/R2A review process that is still in the works.

In October 2008, the City Council consisted of Mayor Hieftje and Council members Rapundalo, Lowenstein, Greden, Higgins, Teall, Easthope, Suarez, Kunselman, Anglin and Briere. Some of those members have left voluntarily, some lost elections to Council members sympathetic to neighborhood concerns. Clearly, we face a different City Council today than we did when we came together five years ago.

There is still much to do. We just wanted to mark the passing of this milestone by saying thank you to everyone who has participated in this venture.