County Manager Mark Schwartz has launched an assessment and review of the County’s Neighborhood Conservation program. The program enables neighborhoods to identify public improvement projects to submit for potential implementation. The study, requested by the County Board in 2018, will examine the mission of the program and the processes by which projects are developed and implemented.
For over 50 years, Neighborhood Conservation has helped enhance neighborhoods across the County. It serves as a grassroots planning effort that relies on neighborhood volunteers to help identify various physical improvements, including sidewalks, park improvements, streetlights and more, recommended to improve their communities. An advisory committee established in 1977 advises on assisting neighborhoods in developing plans, fostering education within the community, recommending funding sources for the program and setting priorities for use of those funds.
In recent years, the Neighborhood Conservation program has experienced challenges related to unanticipated cost increases, duration of project implementation, civic engagement strategies, ensuring geographic distribution of projects and cumulative budget impacts. The assessment and program review includes these four charges:
- Evaluate how well the program is meeting its core mission;
- Explore opportunities for process and implementation improvements;
- Consider the potential role of innovation; and
- Investigate ways to better leverage the program’s civic engagement components.
In the coming weeks, the County Manager will finalize his appointments to the Neighborhood Conservation Program Review (NCPR) Working Group that includes broad representation of the community affected by the program, along with key staff.
The working group and related work are expected to launch in May 2019. The group will aim to complete its work in time to inform the County Board’s deliberations on the next 10-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), through which Neighborhood Conservation projects receive funding.