A lot of ingredients go into making a successful, forward-looking city. One is building stable neighborhoods and keeping city leaders in touch with their needs.
Omaha has seen impressive progress on that score over the past decade or so.
Neighborhood associations have blossomed as Omahans have stepped forward to become involved. The nonprofit Omaha Neighborhood Center provided valuable support to help such associations get started.
During his time as mayor, Jim Suttle set an appropriate example by holding neighborhood meetings regularly. He held public forums, in fact, even when the sessions offered his critics the opportunity to zing him over his controversial tax policies.
It’s important that residents communicate their views and interests to Omaha’s leaders so they can make informed, reasoned decisions. The city’s elected officials, boards and city departments make decisions that affect neighborhoods on issues such as zoning, development projects, community appearance, crime control and graffiti.
A formal initiative is underway this year to make sure that Omaha leaders receive input from the city’s neighborhoods. Mayor Jean Stothert’s office has announced a series of neighborhood forums to be held this month and next.
Residents of Omaha’s neighborhoods should take advantage of the opportunities to turn out for the sessions and share their ideas. The forums will supplement the input this summer from neighborhood association leaders through focus groups and a survey.
The process is intended to keep a strong focus on neighborhood needs in the wake of the disbanding of the Omaha Neighborhood Center last February.
The first forum is set for 7 p.m. tonight at the Benson Community Center, 6008 Maple St.
The remaining schedule: Sept. 17, UNO Alumni House, 6705 Dodge St., 6:30 p.m.; Oct. 3, Salvation Army Kroc Center, 2825 Y St., 7 p.m.; Oct. 10, Northwest Precinct Headquarters, 10245 Wiesman St., 7 p.m.; Oct. 17, Millard Public Library, 13214 Westwood Lane, 7 p.m.; and Oct. 24, Turning Point Campus, 3223 N. 45th St., 6 p.m.
The sessions are being coordinated by the United Neighborhood Alliances of Omaha, with support from the University of Nebraska at Omaha as part of UNO’s focus on civic engagement.
The greater the participation at these sessions, the better the results for the city. It’s a sign of a progressive-minded, involved community.