Community is the foundation of every local government. The residence that lives within the bounds of a municipality, township or village is vital to the success and future of those that represent them. The well being of a community starts at their homes and in their neighborhoods. When a yard is not taken care of or there is tension between neighbors, it can make the way of life for a community lower and less pleasant.
Over the past year and a half, I have talked to many people and have seen instances of neighbor tension, frustration for poorly maintained properties and even trouble with local government services. The problem I see in all these cases is the lack of procedure. When neighbors have issues, the police are often called making the issue a civil one. When properties are poorly maintained, there are tickets but little or no communications. The current solutions do not address the situations the best way and more times than not leave a bad taste when it comes to the city, police, and building department.
I started reaching out to other governments and studying how they approach community relations and how they use the power of local government to remedy tensions. I found that almost all area do not have any process in place to not only help in community tension but provide a sense that the government cares.
Que the idea of a Community Relations Board. When adopted, it could provide a bridge between the government, residents, and even neighbors. It could be comprised and local leaders and community figures. The responsibilities of the “Community Relations Board” would include:
- Resident, Business, and Churche Relations
- Conflict Mediation
- Community Engagement and Feedback
The bullet point I want to point out is “Conflict Mediation“. When there are multiple parties in a conflict that falls outside the realm of police or government they are left standing alone waiting for the situation to reach a level where police or government is required. This is unacceptable and as a local government and I think we can provide more in the form of resources. While I do not think the City should concern itself with a conflict between neighbors over downspout drainage, I do think the City of Barberton absolutely needs to concern itself with the way of life.
The details for a Community Relations Board are broad at this time but deserves the attention of any government. If elected, I would look further into a program similar to the one explained in this post. At the end of the day, even the smallest events contribute to the well being of a community and I think we can do more.