By Seth Piccirillo
The Niagara Falls Community Development Department (CD) is excited to start gathering public comments for our 2017 action plan. Through participatory budgeting, we will decide how to best use United States Department of Housing and Urban Development funds, together.
We are doubling our neighborhood meetings to eight, adding new meeting locations, offering different times to accommodate your schedules, modernizing our competitive application and improving our online survey to get the maximum numbers of local ideas and opinions.
Over the next five months, Niagara Falls residents will have 12 opportunities to attend a meeting or comment on the draft action plan prior to Niagara Falls City Council and HUD approval. We are taking the time to get this right.
Why is public participation so important to us? Because you are the experts on the needs of your neighborhoods. This is literally your action plan. We want to continue working with the community to support projects and services that add worth to your streets, families and housing values. This community-based approach, especially in recent years, is working.
Since 2011, CD and Niagara Falls Neighborhood Housing Services Inc. (NHS) have executed 156 first-time homebuyer closing cost grants. CD, NHS, Center City Development Corp. and Highland Community Revitalization Committee have completed 136 housing renovations, and CD has demolished 101 blighted structures.
In the same time period, we improved public spaces such as Gill Creek Park, the Hyde Park Playground, Center Court Park and the NF Skate Park. Improvements at 70th Street Park, Jerauld Park and the Hyde Park baseball diamonds are also in the works. Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services are relocating heath science career training programs in Niagara Falls, and youth programs such as the Francis Center and Niagara Arts and Cultural Center are being supported.
CD's involvement in all of these projects and programs, and many more, started with conversations at one of our public meetings. Our process, through HUD's investment, is a real opportunity for Niagara Falls residents to participate, give suggestions and to see tangible results.
The CD action plan has a very real impact on what it means to live, work and play in the City of Niagara Falls. We hope you will take part in building a vision for our city that we can all be proud of.
Beginning Monday, applications/citizen surveys will be available at the Department of Community Development, 1022 Main St. (Carnegie Building), from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, or online at www.nf-cd.org.
Neighborhood Planning Meetings
Seth Piccirillo is director of Niagara Falls Community Development and a resident of Niagara Falls.