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Mayor's Office

2008 Media Releases

March 6, 2008
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831

Mayoral Aide hired to oversee initiative

“There will be no slums on my watch,” Mayor Chris Beutler said today as he announced a new effort to improve neighborhoods. The “Stronger Safer Neighborhoods” initiative is a partnership among City governments, non-profits and eventually the development community to focus on revitalizing problem areas. Beutler said the initiative will build on Lincoln’s tradition of strong neighborhoods.

“Neighborhoods are the heart and soul of our community,” said Beutler. “We have great neighborhood associations who organize and help their members look out for one another. The Mayor’s Neighborhood Roundtable meets to discuss common policy issues and make sure the neighborhood needs are being met by my administration. The people of our neighborhoods are energized, motivated and ready to make a difference. Now, it’s time for City government and our new partnership to join them.”

Beutler said the initiative will initially target core neighborhoods facing the challenges of aging housing, falling home ownership rates, increased crime and drug abuse. “When one neighborhood falls, we are all in jeopardy, and some are at the tipping point,” said Beutler. “If we do not act now, we risk witnessing the kind of urban decay and hopelessness which plagues too many cities in the U.S. These areas still remain proud neighborhoods and filled with people and resources that can help us meet those challenges.”

The Stronger Safer Neighborhoods initiative will focus on three priorities:

  • Bricks and mortar – restoring housing and reviving commercial vitality.
  • Good neighbors – re-building neighborhood organizations and getting residents to take charge.
  • Clean and safe streets - focusing law enforcement and code enforcement to reduce crime and blight and establishing standards to measure progress.

A new Mayoral Aide, Jon Carlson, will work in the Police Department to develop goals, devise strategy and oversee the effort. Carlson is a property owner, Former Near South neighborhood leader and former member of the City-County Planning Commission.

“I have business experience improving and managing properties, hands-on experience with neighborhood boards and public service experience of eight years on the Planning Commission,” said Carlson. “These give me a strong understanding and a somewhat unique insight into the building blocks that we will join together to create Stronger Safer Neighborhoods.”

“I am excited that the Mayor is grabbing the bull by the horns on this,” said Police Chief Tom Casady. “Jon and I have discussed neighborhood issues on many occasions over the past decade, and I believe he and I share a common vision about what needs to be done. Having him work as part of the Police Department team will be a tremendous advantage.”

“Efforts like this protect investments in the core of the City and encourage more private sector involvement, which is critical in revitalizing neighborhoods,” said Lynn Fischer, President of the Real Estate Owners and Managers Association. “The Stronger Safer Neighborhoods Initiative makes good business sense and is important to the entire community.”

Mayor Beutler thanked City Council member Dan Marvin for his hard work and persistence on the issue and his leadership in developing the partnership. The City’s partners in the effort include NeighborWorks Lincoln, the Human Services Federation, the Lincoln Community Learning Centers (CLCs) and neighborhoods associations.

Michael Snodgrass, Executive Director of NeighborWorks, thanked the Mayor for his leadership on neighborhood issues. He announced three actions the organization is taking:

  • NeighborWorks has applied for state funding to convert older houses from apartments back to their original uses as single-family homes.
  • NeighborWorks is partnering with the national Rebuilding Together organization to help with minor repairs on owner-occupied homes.
  • The Neighborhood Service Exchange (NSE) in the Everett neighborhood has become a program of NeighborWorks, and NSE organizer Pat Anderson-Sifuentez will be the Community Safety Initiative Coordinator.

“The challenges our community faces cannot be met, nor our opportunities fully realized, by any one organization or sector alone,” said Rick Carter, Executive Director of the Human Services Federation. “Effective collaboration between non-profits, government agencies, faith-based organizations and the business sector is imperative. The issues facing these neighborhoods know no geographic boundaries. Substance abuse, poverty, crime, housing insecurity and education are community issues that we must work on solving together.”

“Lincoln Community Learning Centers have three goals: stronger students, stronger families and stronger neighborhoods.” said Cathie Petsch, Co-Coordinator of the CLCs initiative. “The 23 CLC schools and their families, particularly those in core neighborhoods, can be catalysts in this renaissance effort.”

“We are very pleased with Mayor Beutler’s Stronger Safer Neighborhoods plan,” said Scott Baird, President of the Near South Neighborhood Association. “Lincoln must grow as one community. Strengthening one neighborhood ultimately strengthens the entire community.”

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