I attended my first meeting in the Columbia’s central neighborhood a couple weeks ago, as a part of my continued coverage of the city’s work on its three-year strategic plan.
I have been covering the meetings in the north neighborhood, one of the other three neighborhoods identified by the city as having significant disparities when it comes to poverty, unemployment and crime.
Meetings in the north neighborhood had been relatively productive, and there was always at least 40 people in attendance. Most of the people who came were engaging and showed how much they care for their neighborhood.
At the meeting in the central neighborhood, there were barely 15 people who showed up at Hickman High School. The city staff who had to come to the meeting outnumbered the residents. The discussions were far less engaging and seemed to focus on issues of less importance to the central neighborhood.
One reason for this could have been how inconvenient it is to get to Hickman for many central residents, discouraging them from attending the meeting. Another issue could be a lack of connection and trust between central residents and the city, as they have been a neglected section of the city for years.
Discussion focused on community beautification, such as adding green spaces like community gardens, trash collection and adding murals.
The next meeting is April 6, and it hasn’t been announced whether the meetings will continue to be hosted at Hickman.
Check out my recap of the meeting here and check back in on my continued coverage of Columbia’s strategic plan and neighborhood meetings.