11/14/06 — City plans council for residents

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City plans council for residents

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 14, 2006 1:45 PM

Some spoke out against violence. Others condemned gunshots, break-ins and youths roaming the streets at night. And a few even addressed flood concerns and fire ants.

Now that neighbors across Goldsboro have had the opportunity to voice their concerns to City Council members and city staff, City Manager Joe Huffman said it's time to move forward.

The formation and first meeting of the Mayor's Neighborhood Council is that next step, he said.

"Now that we had our last meeting, what we're going to try to do is pull everybody together," Huffman said. "It's kind of hard with the holidays to get people to meet, but I hope to hold our initial meeting before the next round of (neighborhood) meetings start (in the spring)."

The council will be a mix of volunteers from Goldsboro neighborhoods and those who identified themselves as area leaders at this year's meetings.

"I think that the first step in building community is getting to know one another," Huffman said. "We need to build relationships with people in our neighborhoods."

He hopes the group also will encourage communication between officials and residents -- to ensure "everyone is on the same page."

"I think (the council) will also serve as a network," Huffman said. "The one thing you don't want is for people to look at city government and their neighborhood as two different things. We were created by the neighborhoods. The city government is the people."

The meetings, held at different locations throughout the spring, summer and fall, gave residents a chance to take the microphone and identify problems unique to their locations. And while flooding, drugs, violence and crime often dominated the discussions, Huffman said there was as much positive feedback as concern.

"I think what we found that there are some folks who had complaints, and there were a lot of folks who came to us and said, 'We really appreciate you coming out and meeting with us,'" he said. "So, I feel pretty good about what happened."

And whatever problems local neighbors might have, establishing open lines of communication and encouraging feedback is a step in the right direction, he added.

"The major success here is that we started an outreach program," Huffman said. "Now, we'll build on that."