In 1980, a proposal was put forward in Orem to organize neighborhoods into a program called Neighborhoods In Action. The city council at the time did not approve the proposal. A similar measure was eventually passed by the council in 1998.
The Neighborhoods In Action program organized neighbors for things like spring and fall cleanups, neighborhood parties and meetings on issues of concern.
That program, according to discussion at Tuesday’s Orem City Council meeting, has lagged in the past few years.
A new proposal is being put forward hoping to develop greater neighborhood representation. It also hopes to connect that representation to city leaders on issues in various neighborhoods throughout Orem.
It’s called the Neighborhood Partnership Advisory Council. It would be made up of nine residents representing the nine districts in the city — a step up from the past NIA proposals, according to city spokesperson Steven Downs.
Under the plan, those nine neighborhood representatives would serve three-year terms. They would be selected by the council through an application process.
Applicants must show their interest and knowledge of the community through an interview process. Those representatives will also be evaluated on their knowledge of ongoing issues, as well as communication skills and creative thinking, according to Downs.
Modern technology, and the way the city communicates with its residents, has changed significantly over the last 20 years, according to Downs. The city now has emails, newsletters, a 311 information line and surveys replacing how neighborhoods communicate.
Under the NIA program, chairmen, assistant chairmen and secretaries from 22 neighborhoods designed to fit LDS Church Stake borders are used. In all, when fully staffed, more than 250 people were responding to issues in their neighborhoods.
Those church-drawn boundaries have been done away with by the new NPAC proposal.
“Rarely before would they say they had the pulse of the neighborhood,” Downs said. “We’re modernizing the NIA program because we can get results in a different way and neighborhood goals will be shared.”
The neighborhood organization represents all of the residents, according to Downs.
Representatives can get more specific concerns taken care of and become more deeply involved under the new program.
Downs said the program is still receiving its final tweaks and is a work in progress, but he would like to have the council’s input on the program as a whole.
Council members would also be assigned to the districts as part of their annual assignments from the mayor.
“We are still trying to do the same thing (as NIA) but with more efficiency,” Downs said.
The council gave a positive response to the presentation and encouraged Downs to continue with the final tweaks to the program.
“The next step is to make it formal,” Downs said. “I feel this can bridge the old NIA and the new program.”