All government is local, and in Cincinnati, it’s right here in your own backyard. Often, the most responsive government is local government. It really is easy to get involved and have a voice.
All you have to do is attend or join your neighborhood community council (NCC). Most of our 52 distinct and diverse neighborhoods throughout the city are represented by a community council. Many meet once a month, some provide food, and all welcome everyone in their neighborhood to participate. These community councils are led by some of the most selfless and conscientious volunteers around and provide an important way for you to have a say in your community.
Cincinnati is interesting and vibrant because of each one of our neighborhoods. My first involvement with local government was as a member, and eventually president, of my neighborhood community council. I loved that everything we did impacted our special corner of the city.
As a city council member, I try to regularly attend NCC meetings. This year, I challenged myself and staff with a 52 in 52 Initiative. My goal was to attend at least 52 neighborhood community council meetings and events in 52 weeks. This allowed me to hear from of as many citizens as possible. In 2016, to date, I have attended over 60 community events.
NCCs are the grassroots network of Cincinnati. These are the meetings that focus on what is specifically happening where you live and what matters most to you – from the needs in our largest neighborhood of Westwood (population 29,950) to the needs of our smallest in Queensgate (population 142).
I was able to better understand each neighborhood, such as parking issues in CUF, a zebra in Mount Washington, a property tour in Avondale, and major sidewalk issues on River Road in Sayler Park.
Generally, each community council meeting starts with a report by our police and fire. Every month our first responders/neighborhood liaisons give a report on exactly what is happening in your specific neighborhood. This is a great opportunity to develop a relationship with your local police and fire department and ask about any issues that concern you.
Although every neighborhood has their own issues and opportunities, there were a few themes I heard over and over from the East Side to the West Side. First and foremost, people are concerned about bus service since it is a vital mode of transportation to and from work, stores, and family.
Related and equally concerning – though more of a West Side issue – is the condition of the Western Hills Viaduct. The rehabilitation and replacement of this major piece of transportation infrastructure will be a critical matter facing our region in the near future.
Having heard of these from so many, as Chair of the Major Transportation and Regional Cooperation Committee, I am committed to continue to address both of these issues.
Additionally, throughout all 52 neighborhoods, there is great concern about the heroin epidemic. It affects communities and individuals both as parents, brothers and sisters of those addicted, and as neighborhoods who are trying to deal with the impact of crime on their streets. The reports given by our fire and police at these meetings give you a clear understanding of the urgency of the issue.
In an effort to find solutions that address a problem that is much larger than just Cincinnati, the Major Transportation and Regional Cooperation Committee recently joined with the Hamilton County Commissioners to face this crisis head on by looking at prevention, treatment, and more Narcan funding.
As a New Year’s resolution, I would encourage everyone to attend their neighborhood community council in 2017. Give it a try and have your voice heard. I’ll be attending many in 2017. Let me know if you are going for the first time and I’ll join you.
You can find information about community councils online at: http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/community-development/neighborhood-development/community-council-directory/