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Community council group developing its framework

Albany Assistant City Manager Wes Smith, left, and Ward II City Commissioner Ivey Hines addresses the group Saturday at an organizational meeting  of the Council of Neighborhoods and Community Associations. The organization is being developed to coordinate the efforts of various associations throughout Albany, such as neighborhood watch groups. (July 13, 2013)

Albany Assistant City Manager Wes Smith, left, and Ward II City Commissioner Ivey Hines addresses the group Saturday at an organizational meeting of the Council of Neighborhoods and Community Associations. The organization is being developed to coordinate the efforts of various associations throughout Albany, such as neighborhood watch groups. (July 13, 2013)

ALBANY, Ga. — A new umbrella organization has been formed to help individual community associations work together for the betterment of the Albany-Dougherty County Community and for their own neighborhood goals.

Around 40 charter members of the organization, known as the Council of Neighborhoods and Community Associations, as well as city and police officials, met Saturday at the Adventure Theater building of the Flint RiverQuarium on Pine Avenue. The primary purpose of the meeting was to refine the bylaws of their model constitution.

Assistant City Manager Wes Smith, who directed the one-hour meeting, said the basic idea of a governing council for the 40 or more neighborhood watch groups and associations has been around for about a year. At the first meeting, which included two representatives from each ward, sufficient interest was discovered to continue with the concept, Smith said. After consideration, the group selected the constitution of a Council in Athens-Clarke County with some aspects of a Tallahassee, Fla., document as its working model.

After Saturday’s minor changes to the model by member consensus, the document will be circulated to participating neighborhood groups for input, and a hoped-for final approval at the next Council meeting.

“What’s impressive is the numbers, the geographic diversity and the types of representative we have today and at the last meeting,” Smith said. “Young, old, black, white. All types of social and financial circumstances are here. I’m really excited to be a part of it.”

Smith and other city officials involved with the council initiative are quick to say, however, that the organization belongs to the community and that outside participation would provide no real direction for the group — just administrative help.

Ward II Commissioner Ivey Hines said the council would serve to amplify the efforts of 40-50 individual neighborhood watch groups and associations within Dougherty County by facilitating organization and recruitment as well as encouraging people to establish watches for “safe and beautiful communities.”

“We’re getting a centerpiece to quickly communicate what is going on with all the organizations,” Hines said. “If something happens on the west side of town and they wanted to get the word out to the east side, there would be a community mechanism in place to share that information.”

Judy Bowles, executive director of Keep Albany-Dougherty County Beautiful, is said to have been involved with the counsel project since the first. She has high hopes for its success.

“I work a lot with neighborhood watches and associations, and this is a wonderful opportunity for them to come under an umbrella,” Bowles said. “If we have a particular issue in the city we need to disburse to everybody, the information immediately goes out. It’s about communication and keeping your neighborhood safe and visually attractive. It’s worked in a lot of other communities that have been doing this a number years — mostly in large cities, but there’s no reason it can’t work to our advantage in a smaller community.”

Officers for the umbrella organization are to be elected at the next meeting at 10 a.m. Aug. 17. For more information, contact Hines at (229) 432-2920 or (229) 347-0186.