Neighbors get linked on community web site
Neighborhood associations serve important purposes in cities across the nation: They work with local government and law enforcement, serve as a communications vehicle for residents, and deal with problems affecting their small communities. However, differing schedules and lifestyles can make it difficult for neighborhood associations to communicate with all residents. To boost communication and increase neighborhood interaction, many neighborhood associations have turned to the Internet and developed community web sites.
In Portland, Ore., the Sunnyside neighborhood association had problems getting information to its 3,300 homes, and attendance was low at neighborhood meetings. To boost interest and enhance communication, the association joined with Neighborhood Link, a Denver-based Internet service provider, to create a web page for the neighborhood.
Using a template from the firm, association president Tom Badrick created a web page featuring the neighborhood newsletter, a calendar of events, a discussion forum, lists of local schools, links to local government offices and a local weather report. “I can put a tremendous amount of information out without killing trees in the printing process,” Badrick says. “The web page enhances what we’re trying to do in the neighborhood. And it’s extremely handy.” The association still prints and distributes its newsletter to accommodate people who do not have computers or Internet access.
Discussion forums are among the most popular pages for the majority of the 13,000 neighborhood associations that are part of Neighborhood Link. The Country Side Homeowners Association members in Westminster, Colo., posted 50 to 60 replies in nearly every topic introduced in their discussion forum. Neighbors discuss anything from recent thefts to nearby commercial properties.
Associations can customize their sites with graphics or follow the template. The groups are responsible for maintaining their own sites, but heavy graphical knowledge is not required. A number of sites also include banner ads for area businesses.
Most of the neighborhood association sites contain basic news and information, but Badrick says he hopes to expand Sunnyside’s site to include a map of the neighborhood, a guestbook and more graphics. He also would like to incorporate GIS elements to show utility lines and storm drains. For more information about association web sites, visit www.neighborhoodlink.com.