Keep Calm and Hartford On- Neighborhoods Recap

Jul 29, 2015

Last Tuesday, our Civic Engagement Committee hosted Keep Calm and Hartford On: Neighborhoods at Wood-N-Tap. This event is a family feud-style game show where the difference between perception and reality on involvement in Hartford's neighborhoods was addressed. HYPEsters were fortunate enough hear from two panelists, Bernadine Silvers of Hartford 2000, and Parkville NRZ President David Morin. Couldn't make the event? This blog will review the answers to the questions asked!

1. Where would you go to address issues in your neighborhood?

The majority of people surveyed for the event said they would go to the City Council or the police with any issues in their neighborhood. While they are both options, David stressed that the City Council focuses on broader issues, and are often harder to get in contact with, while the police really can't focus their time on non crime related issues. He suggested that more people look to their Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ), neighborhood association, or neighborhood committees for information and assistance on local issues. Bernadine echoed this suggestion, explaining that NRZ's were formed to give those who live, work, worship, and recreate in the area a place to voice their concerns and affect change in their specific neighborhood, of which Hartford has 17. Of these 17 neighborhoods, 14 have NRZ's.

2. What issues do Neighborhood Revitalization Zones address?

NRZ's address any and all community and neighborhood issues, mostly around community development. David stated that topics can range from streetlight outages to economic development concerns, to anything a committee members would like to address. Bernadine remarked that the purpose of NRZ's was to give a voice to each individual neighborhood, so many issues they discuss are pertinent to that specific area.

3. What would you do to get involved in a community agency or initiative?

Both Bernadine and David agreed that the best way to get involved in an NRZ or neighborhood association is to simply attend a meeting. You do not have to live in a specific neighborhood to attend their meeting, but can work there, worship there, or just really love the neighborhood. David stressed that young professionals are especially welcome to attend.

4. Who comprises a Neighborhood Revitalization Zone?

As president of the Parkville NRZ, David stressed to HYPEsters that anyone can join an NRZ, and you do not have to be a Hartford resident or a neighborhood resident to attend. Local businesses, residents, and worshipers make up the majority of the attendees, but anyone with an interest in the neighborhood is welcome.

5. What Hartford Neighborhood has seen the largest growth in population in the last 5 years?

Downtown has seen the largest population growth in the last five years, and while this is great for the City overall, Bernadine encouraged young professionals to look outside of Downtown Hartford and become more familiar with the neighborhoods. The growth in Downtown Hartford is good for everyone, but many of the neighborhoods are still working to revive their local businesses, schools, and residence. Her hope is that as Downtown continues to grow and flourish, the neighborhoods surrounding it will follow.

6. What, if any, presence does the City of Hartford have in Neighborhood Revitalization Zones?

 The City of Hartford helped to create the NRZ's as a way to give influence to neighborhoods, but most NRZ members wish the City would be more involved. This is difficult for David and other NRZ presidents because many of the concerns of the NRZ members require a City offical to answer them. David suggests that the City take more of a role in attending meetings in order to hear concerns firsthand, and be able to speak to what the City is doing to address these concerns. Bernadine would like to see a partnership between NRZ's and the City officials, and feels that more work would get done overall if both parties could work together more equally.

Thank you again to our panelists Bernadine Slivers and David Morin, and to the Civic Engagement Committee for hosting yet another informative Keep Calm and Hartford On! If you have questions about a local NRZ, check out Hartford 2000 for a full list of locations, meeting dates, and contacts for each of Hartford's 14 Neighborhood Revitalization Zones.

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