Neighborhood associations key to city

Within the city of Springfield, there are some 30 neighborhood associations.

Jackie Sudhoff, the city’s development programs administrator, coordinates those groups and she said they vary in their level of activity. Some are very active, others tend to be cyclical as needs arise. Some are more social and others are reactive.

But they all play an important role in maintaining and improving the community.

“These are the grass roots organizations that bring ideas forward,” she said.

The various neighborhood associations are also part of an umbrella organization — the Council of Neighborhood Associations, known as CONA.

The city receives Community Development Block Grant funding from the federal government. That program requires city outreach to and input from the neighborhoods. City staff manages the grants, and in turn, provides the neighborhoods with a small amount of money, up to $300. Sudhoff said that money is then used for the neighborhood associations’ activities.

The city also pays to have Dumpsters placed in neighborhoods for their cleanup efforts.

For those interested in starting a neighborhood association, Sudhoff said it’s easy. Start by calling her at City Hall at 937-324-7380 to find out more information. Next, “go talk to your neighbors about a time and place to meet,” she said.

One of the longest-running and most active of the neighborhood associations in Springfield is SENA, the Southeast Neighborhood Association.

President Marianne Nave said the group has completed its 14th year of activities in 2013. The group started through the Trinity Lutheran Church evangelism committee’s efforts to determine the needs in that part of town.

“We’re one of the larger (neighborhood associations),” Nave pointed out. “SENA includes a geographic area of 1,300 homes, 33 businesses, eight churches and one grade school. Neighbors get acquainted and meet new people, while working to improve this area.”

SENA meets monthly, and Nave said, “we learned early on we had to give people a reason to come to meetings.”

So they schedule speakers and provide information on topics of interest to the members. SENA activities last year included a Neighborhood Cleanup Day and, for the 13th year, a Christmas Lighting Contest. SENA also won the 2013 Community Beautification Committee Award for Neighborhood Sign Beautification and planted flowers at their sign along Selma Road as part of the CBC’s Adopt-A-Bed Program.

“I think we had a very successful year,” Nave said.

Nave points out they are working to address some of the problems in that part of the city, such as the number of vacant houses resulting from older residents dying or moving to nursing homes.

And she believes SENA is “a positive influence in the neighborhood.”

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