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Noeighborhood Improvement Program for the Douglass Park Neighborhood

Dublin Core

Title

Noeighborhood Improvement Program for the Douglass Park Neighborhood

Subject

Douglass Park, Urban Planning

Description

Executive Summary:

The Neighborhood Improvement Program (NIP) planning process was designed to
encourage the active involvement of neighborhood residents in the development of a
strategic neighborhood action plan in the Douglass Park area. The NIP has two primary
goals: (1) to encourage citizens to take an active role in organizing their neighborhoods,
and (2) to prioritize neighborhood needs through a series of community meetings, dati}
collection, and strategy development to ensure the best use of City resources.
The NIP involves a collaborative, neighborhood oriented planning process with input
from residents in the identification of neighborhood strengths, weaknesses, and
opportunities. The City Council approved a contract with the University of Illinois
Department of Urban and Regional Planning to provide technical assistance to the
neighborhood during the planning process and assist with plan research. The NIP is a
true partnership between the neighborhood, the City, and the University of Illinois.
In December 1995, the City Council approved the implementation of a pilot
Neighborhood Improvement Program (NIP). The planning areas chosen were Area 2
(Douglass Park Neighborhood), and Area 8 (Garden Hills). Area 2 was selected to
support the initiative taken by the Concerned Citizens for Better Neighborhoods who
had previously contacted the University about conducting a neighborhood planning
process in their area. This report reflects the findings for the Douglass Park
neighborhood. The borders for this neighborhood are: University A venue on the south,
Bradley Avenue on the north, Wright Street on the east, and First Street on the west.
Existing conditions within Planning Area 2 were gathered using a multi-step research
process. The steps utilized by residents, staff, and students during the research process
were: a windshield survey of the entire planning area, US Census Data, archival
information, a land use survey, a resident perception survey, resident fieldwork, and a
series of community meetings. All planning activities, including data collection, data
analysis, and strategic planning were carried out in consultation with the residents
during community meetings or with the Steering Committee representation of the
entire neighborhood. The involvement of residents in the research process reduced the
chance of faulty analysis or inappropriate conclusions.
Using an exercise involving photographing sections of the neighborhood, residents
identified the strengths and weaknesses in Planning Area 2. They were then given the
opportunity to join small groups to brainstorm strategies for addressing weaknesses.
The strategies were later prioritized according to their importance to neighborhood
residents and the neighborhood's ability to effectively respond to each problem. A
complete listing of the strengths and weaknesses can be found in Appendix 10.

Through community meeting discussions and analysis of the area's strengths,
weaknesses, and opportunities, the overall developmental goal and four planning
objectives to address these issues were derived. The neighborhood objectives are:
• Overall Development Goal - Enhance the quality of life in the Douglass Park
neighborhood by assisting and empowering the grass roots efforts of community
organizations. Through a comprehensive stabilization'strategy of the Neighborhood
Action Plan, create and implement programs which address residents' concerns for
strengthening neighborhood· organizations, improving area housing, increasing
awareness for public safety, and providing residents with opportunities for
employment.
~ Community Organization - Strengthen the neighborhood association through
training, recruitment, staff support, and other activities to sustain planning and
program strategies supported in the Douglass Park Action Plan.
~ Housing - Beautify the neighborhood with programs to reduce the deterioration
of the housing stock and provide self-help activities for improvements.
~ Public Safety - Improve public safety and deter criminal behavior by altering
traffic flow with infrastructure improvements and by creating alternative
activities for youth at risk.
~ Economic Development - Address unemployment and underemployment in
the Douglass Park Neighborhood by providing residents with access to training
on the elements of the job search (i.e., application and resume writing,
interviewing skills, and improved information resources).
Strategies for each objective were developed by all participants in the planning process.
During NIP community meetings, residents reviewed each strategy to determine
whether each was a low or high priority for implementation in Douglass park. The
grids below illustrate the objectives, objective strategies, agencies responsible for
'strategy implementation, and approximate time required for initiation. High priority
strategies (Table A) are described in detail in Section VIII of the Neighborhood Action
Plan. Low priority strategies (Table B) are described in Appendices 5 - 8.


Acknowledgments
Douglass Park Steering Committee
Rosie & Bennie Drake, Sr. Antonio Cadena
Katie Henry Rev. William Keaton
Rev. Mary E. Mullen Juanita Mason
Muhammad Abdullah George Pope
Arnetta Rogers Willie Thomas
Clyde Walker Vera Wesley
Concerned Citizens for Better Neighborhoods Board Members
Beverly Bell-Thurman Nathaniel Banks
Catherine Hogue Jackie Vonner
Muhammad Abdullah Clyde Walker
Vera Wesley
Mayor
Dannel McCollum
Deputy Mayor
JuneMank
Council Members
. Thomas Bruno Wend Gibson
Michael La Due Maggie Mattingly
J.W. Pirtle Ed Ryan*
Jerry Schweighart Marty ~mith
(*Council Member Present when Project was Initiated)
The ~oncemed Citizens for Better Neighborhoods, the City of Champaign, and the
Department of Urban and Regional Planning would especially like to thank all the
residents of Douglass Park who attended Neighborhood Improvement Project
meetings, participated in planning activities, took the time to assist in the surveys and
data collection, and allowed us the opportunity to experience and explore their
neighborhood. Their input into the forces and concerns of residents in Douglass Park
was crucial in this process.

Creator

The Concerned Citizens for Better Neighborhoods, City of Champaign, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Publisher

unpublished report

Date

1997

Contributor

Stacy Harwood

Contribution Form

Online Submission

No

Scripto

Document Item Type Metadata

Citation

The Concerned Citizens for Better Neighborhoods, City of Champaign, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, "Noeighborhood Improvement Program for the Douglass Park Neighborhood," in eBlack Champaign-Urbana, Item #833, http://eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/833 (accessed September 18, 2021).

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