By: Heather Williams—
Muncie, IN—The Muncie Action Plan spent 2019 working to address the issues identified by the community during the MAP3 planning process. MAP’s five task forces have focused their efforts on Linking Learning, Health, and Prosperity (TF1), Fostering Collaboration (TF2), Strengthening Muncie’s Pride and Image (TF3), Creating Attractive and Desirable Places (TF4), and Managing Community Resources (TF5). As we close out this year, we would like to share our successes as we approach our Annual Community Meeting on January 28th at Muncie Central High School. This is the second of five reports from our task force leaders.
MAP’s Task Force 2 strengthens resident engagement through civil discourse and leadership development to help create positive change in our city’s neighborhoods.
Muncie’s neighborhoods were active throughout 2019, focusing on beautification efforts, infrastructure improvements, and resident engagement. The Old West End held their annual Beech Grove Cemetery tour and summer rummage sale and also worked to make improvements to their Community Circle Park. Blaine/Southeast neighborhoods continued work on their community park and held their annual Youth Revival and Community Outreach event on July 27th. Industry neighborhood held their second annual picnic in Heekin Park with bounce houses, food, and fun. East Central neighborhood was responsible for another successful Old Washington Street Festival in September, attracting record crowds with fresh, new music and entertainment in addition to old favorites and also well-loved vendors of antiques, crafts, food, and drinks.
The Halteman neighborhood advocated for improvements to their former community pool site, working towards redevelopment in 2020. Anthony-Northside is actively working to preserve the historic entrances located on Wheeling Ave. The McKinley neighborhood continues to formalize their association and collaborate with Ball State University’s Studio 165+ to develop a new logo for the McKinley Live Learn Neighborhood as they position the neighborhood for reinvestment in partnership with NextMuncie. Just south of McKinley, the Gilbert neighborhood began meeting again in an effort to improve safety at the Gilbert park and provide a resident voice in future development efforts.
Riverside-Normal City held the inaugural $2 Tour of the Village on August 24th, enticing students and residents to sample food, drinks, and merchandise and listen to live music in a street fair held on a closed University Avenue. The neighborhood also brought back the traditional Emerson ice cream social, inviting former Emerson school students and displaying historic photos provided by the Delaware County Historical Society. The neighborhood continues work to establish a local historic district, needing only a few signatures before the ordinance will go before City Council for approval in 2020.
2019 has been an exciting year for the Southside neighborhood as regular monthly meetings began in spring and residents worked to develop Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The newly formed association also partnered with Ball State urban planning students to develop a neighborhood action plan and Ball State’s Studio 165+ to create a logo. Board elections will be held in January and residents will form committees and determine priorities for action in 2020.
The Whitely Community Council engaged in a strategic planning process led by Shafer Leadership Academy. Residents and committed community members continue to partner on projects that align with Whitely’s task force goals: Beautification, Safety and Security, Education and Health, Employment and Entrepreneurs, Pride and Events, Resource Development, Marketing and Public Relations. Whitely was recognized again at the national Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) conference in Palm Springs, CA with the third place Neighborhood of the Year award for the Safety Committee’s work to improve safety and build community. The 8Twelve Coalition was also recognized at NUSA for their Small Sparks program, taking home second place in the Best Neighborhood Program category.
8Twelve neighborhoods Thomas Park/Avondale and South Central completed several projects and hosted a variety of events throughout the year. South Central’s president Lezlie McCrory took the lead on installing the large planters that sit along South Walnut Street that are branded with the South Central logo and display year round beauty in the form of colorful sculptures. Thomas Park/Avondale residents came together to build relationships at their cleanups, community garden events, trunk-or-treat, and family field day.
Muncie’s neighborhoods encouraged participation in the 2019 city elections by hosting candidate forums that brought city council and mayor candidates out into the community. Resident training to support advocacy was provided in December in partnership with the 8twelve Coalition and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Further leadership development will be available at the fifth annual IDEA Conference on Saturday, March 7th. Mayor-elect Dan Ridenour will give his first State of the City Address as the keynote at 2:30 PM. Registration for this free event is available online at muncieneighborhoods.org. Nominations will also be accepted online for Neighborhood Leader and Neighborhood Project of the Year.
MAP provided leadership for the Neighborhood Leadership Council (NLC), which held meetings every third Tuesday of the month. NLC meetings provide an opportunity for neighborhood leaders to share best practices and hear from speakers on various topics, including NextMuncie, the Delaware County Tax Sale process, immersive learning partnerships, and the Muncie Land Bank. Meetings will be held again in 2020 on the third Tuesday of each month from 6-7 PM at the Ivy Tech Fisher Building downtown. These meetings are open to anyone interested in learning more about neighborhood association development and community engagement.
This and so much more happened in Muncie’s neighborhoods in 2019. If you live within city limits, you likely live in a neighborhood. Check out muncieneighborhoods.org to find out how to get involved and to learn more.