Bentonville, AR… Bentonville’s Great Neighborhoods Partnership Program is a new initiative by Mayor Orman to link together her core goals of transparency and improved communication with residents and the Community Plan’s goal of building stronger neighborhoods to provide a “great place to plant roots”.
Neighborhoods have a foundational place in the community and the mission of this project is to strengthen Bentonville by supporting and encouraging neighborhoods that follow the four characteristics of being friendly, safe, attractive, and engaged. Proactive collaboration between neighborhood residents and the city, such as this initiative, will result in great and resilient neighborhoods with strong identities that add value to the Bentonville community.
The program, as stated above, is built on four characteristics. In order to fulfill the goal of being friendly, this program hopes to build bonds among neighborhood residents. The aim of being safe is met by the program aspiring to cultivate a sense of safety and security. To be attractive, the program endeavors to empower residents to enhance their neighborhood. The final characteristic, engaged, will be achieved by fostering communications between residents and the city.
The Bentonville Great Neighborhoods Partnership has four components: Planning and Support, Neighborhood Partners, Neighborhood Programs, and the Neighborhood Advisory Committee.
The Planning and Support component offers technical assistance for neighborhood associations (those that are organizing or already organized) and establishing geographical boundaries. City staff can help in prioritizing neighborhood goals and preparing a plan for implementation, as having goals for the neighborhood association can help members feel they are working toward improving their neighborhood. Support materials for neighborhood organizations include preparation of neighborhood maps, data, and demographics, as well a repository of neighborhood-related information, ideas and resources.
The Neighborhood Partners component is a registry of participating neighborhoods that meet the four principles for participation and receive the program benefits. To become a Neighborhood Partner, the organization must be resident-led, inclusive of all residents, offer engaging activities, and understand the need for a long-term commitment. Program benefits include representation on the Neighborhood Advisory Committee, access to neighborhood planning, goal prioritization, and neighborhood programs.
The Neighborhood Programs have activities tailored to each of the four neighborhood characteristics described above in order to help neighborhood associations develop strong neighborhoods with each characteristic at the forefront. Some activities include a block party trailer, neighborhood safety planning, neighborhood cleanups, neighborhood awards, and an annual Great Neighborhood event.
The Neighborhood Advisory Committee was established to facilitate communication between the city council, city staff, and the neighborhoods. It will consist of one representative and one alternate from all registered neighborhood partners to provide feedback to the city and collaborate to develop solutions on issues pertinent to neighborhoods.
This partnership has Mayor Orman hopeful about the outcomes of the program, stating “Close-knit communities where families and individuals thrive are a strength of Bentonville and something I think is a strong attraction for people who are looking to call Bentonville home”.