Improve Delray Neighborhoods
Seminar aims to improve Delray neighborhoods
By Patty Pensa
June 10, 2001
DELRAY BEACH + Programs don't solve problems,
and city hall doesn't have all the answers.
That's what Joe Gray, a
former Orange County government official, told about 14 residents gathered
Saturday for his workshop, "Preparing Future Neighborhood Leaders," during the
city's first Neighborhood Summit.
The answer, Gray said, is for residents
to learn how the system works -- and work it.
"People really think, for
some crazy reason, that all the answers to their problems are in city hall," he
said. "Government's bottom line is that it has a responsibility to trust in the
common sense of the people. Citizens need to trust that government works for the
common good. You've got to put personal issues aside. It's about the
It's also about community building, where residents talk to
each other and watch out for the neighborhood, Gray said.
That notion was
central during the summit, said Kenneth Thomas, planning committee
Divided into 10 workshops, the summit addressed topics such as
leadership, drugs, traffic, entrepreneurship, newsletters and code compliance so
residents could learn new ideas on tackling problems and improving their
communities, he said.
Jacquie and Caleb Owens, who bought their first
home on Northeast Seventh Street in February, said they wanted to get more
involved in government and their neighborhood, which Jacquie Owens said "is full
of absentee owners, and the halfway houses are out of control."
learned how to navigate city hall, how to organize, and we're getting to know
people and who to call," she said.
The Owenses worry about issues of
traffic, drugs and absentee owners, as does Gloria Elliott, who lives on South
"What we need to do is get a grip on absentee property
owners and slumlords," said Elliott, who attended the Code Compliance and
Reporting workshop. "They pull down the entire neighborhood. Slumlords should be
told it's time to leave."
Cameron Harris of Lake Worth came to the summit
to gather ideas for her neighborhood association, which she said is relatively
new, as are most associations in that city. She said the summit offered
practical information on finding sources in the community and how to become
partners with the city to improve her neighborhood.
When the summit
planning committee started organizing the event a few months ago, members
selected workshop topics according to concerns most frequently aired at city
meetings. Thomas said based on resident feedback, he wants to hold the summit
again next year. Workshops on newsletters and celebrations left residents with
ideas to take back to their neighborhoods, he said.
"I noticed a lot of
communication between residents," he said. "Even if they don't live in the same
neighborhood, there was camaraderie. There was a lot of sharing. It was just
really positive."Patty Pensa can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-243-6609.
Copyright © 2001, South Florida