FORMING A Neighborhood Association

Some tips, courtesy of the City of Eau Claire, on how to kick-start the process of forming your own neighborhood association

It’s true, organizing a neighborhood association is hard work. That’s why it’s critical to get other people involved from the very beginning. Most neighborhoods form a volunteer steering committee early in the planning process to get the initial organization up and running. This preliminary work may take three to six months and includes the following basics: Identifying block leaders, creating bylaws, electing permanent officers, identifying neighborhood issues, deciding on an association name, establishing a mission statement, holding at least one special event, and compiling articles for the first newsletter.

There is no best way to form the steering committee. One approach is to hold an initial neighborhood meeting of residents to provide information about neighborhood associations and to solicit volunteers for a steering committee.

Some recommended steps for arranging the first meeting include the following:

  • Contact the City of Eau Claire Planning Division (715-839-4914) and request that mailing labels be created for your proposed neighborhood area.
  • Invite the Planning Division to send a representative to your meeting to provide information about the neighborhood services provided by the city. The city representative can also assist you in completing an initial survey about neighborhood issues. You may also want to invite a representative of another neighborhood association.
  • Reserve a multi-purpose meeting room somewhere in your neighborhood. The most common locations are schools or churches. Allow three to four weeks before the meeting to ensure sufficient time to mail meeting wnotices. Confirm the meeting date with any guest speakers you have invited.
  • Compose an invitation letter providing the address, date, and time of the meeting, and mail it at least two weeks beforehand.
  • Prepare a timed agenda to help keep the meeting on track. City Planning Division staff can assist in providing copies for the meeting.
  • Make sure to gather contact information of anyone who comes so you can stay in touch via email, phone, mail, etc.

Not sure if your Eau Claire Neighborhood already has an association? See if you do! View a list of Eau Claire neighborhood associations »

Checklist for an Effective Meeting

  • State ideas positively and show their relation to the overall issue.
  • Foster cooperation, not conflict.
  • Discuss decision items when most group members are present.
  • Present financial information with written copies for everyone present.
  • Keep information items brief and relevant.
  • Keep committee reports brief.
  • Conclude committee reports with a recommendation expressed in a clearly stated proposal.
  • Use visual aids.
  • Assign tasks and responsibilities as the meeting progresses, and record the assignments in the minutes.
  • Know the limits of the group’s decision-making authority.
  • Encourage everyone to participate.
  • Don’t overcrowd the agenda with too many items.

“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.” Henrik Ibsen, 19th century Norwegian playwright

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