Niagara Gazette

May 5, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Guiding Community Development in the Falls

By Seth Piccirillo
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Niagara Falls Community Development’s budget starts with you. It sounds like a slogan but it is true and we want to prove it. The 2014 Community Development Budget process has begun. We are starting early this year and adding new ways to start conversations with the public. Our citizens know what Niagara Falls needs to invest in. Your voice carries the most weight.

Our department manages approximately $2 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant funds for activities ranging from housing and storefront rehabilitation to summer youth programs and homelessness prevention. With every dollar spent, our goal is to create better opportunities for home ownership and to strengthen our neighborhoods.

Applications for Niagara Falls Community Development funding programs are now available to the public as well as a new citizen participation survey, both in paper and online. We will use our website, Facebook, and Twitter as new tools to get the word out.

Four neighborhood workshops will be held throughout the city for face-to-face input. Purposefully, these are not traditional government meetings. It is a casual way to talk about issues and ideas in your neighborhood. Per federal law, the public will then get another chance to have their say at a public hearing and 30-day comment period in July before the action plan is sent to the city council for approval.

Here’s the breakdown:

• Applications Due: June 14

• How to get the application and citizen survey: Online at www.nf-cd.org, www.facebook.com/NiagaraFallsCD or at the Carnegie Building, 1022 Main St.

• Neighborhood Workshops:

May 21: 5:30 p.m. at Neighborhood Housing Services 479 16th St.

May 23: 6 p.m. at the Doris Jones Family Resource Bldg. 3001 9th St.

May 29: 5:30 p.m. at the LaSalle Public Library 8728 Buffalo Ave.

June 5: 5:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Building 1022 Main St.

Now more than ever, we need to hear from our citizens. Fewer people have attended our neighborhood meetings in recent years. This is a problem that needs fixing, so we are coming up with ways to shake things up. The goal of this year’s Niagara Falls Community Development budget is transparency and public ownership from start to finish. That is federal law and plain common sense. The end product: an annual budget built by the public in the public. We look forward to talking with you all soon.

Seth Piccirillo is director of the Niagara Falls Community Development Department.