- Every residence within the City limits is represented by an active civic or homeowners association.
- Business associations have been formed among major commercial centers and corridors. They liaise regularly with the City, and serve as a communications conduit between government organizations and the district membership.
An important aspect of any project, but particularly of planning and governance, is communication. By ensuring that all groups that might be party to an issue have the opportunity to share their perspectives, consensus is developed and a better project or policy is most often the result. In many cities, community associations and business associations can fill that role. They can provide a consistent and clear voice for areas within the city, particularly those that have shared issues, goals or concerns. They can provide a link to their representation that can make citizen engagement more effective.
Civic or community associations are an excellent way for neighbors to collectively express concerns, and to speak with an amplified voice. In so doing, they can provide clearer direction to their public officials with regard to the needs that might be specific to their own part of the city. An added benefit is that they can more easily connect with their neighbors, reinforcing the sense of community that can make a neighborhood an even more desirable place to live.
Business associations are also great mechanisms for focusing the input of the local stakeholders. In fact, three new associations have recently been formed: The North Huntsville Business Association (NHBA), the South Huntsville Business Association (SHBA), and Grow Cove (around the 431/Sutton Road corridors in Hampton Cove). Well-organized business associations can accomplish many things, among them:
- Coordinate marketing for a district;
- Organize and host special community-building events;
- Advocate for public projects or partnerships;
- Connect with and support neighborhood schools;
- Provide a point-of-contact for city departments and other external entities;
- Mentor and incubate local entrepreneurs;
- Develop a shared vision for growth and development within a particular area.
In other cities, larger associations have unique yearly festivals that showcase the special character of their respective districts, and serve as regular partners with municipal organizations and corporate partners on community improvement projects and outreach.
As gaps in Civic Association coverage are filled, identify “clusters” of neighborhood organizations and establish regular meetings between them and City representation.
Develop standard by-laws for Civic and Business Associations, to streamline their establishment.
Work to ensure that all civic associations have formally-approved by-laws, a duly-elected board, and regularly scheduled public meetings.