WHNA Board Goals
At-large Board Members: The following briefly describe projects or issues that this board would like to address in the coming year. We believe that each and all of these issues would be beneficial for our neighborhood association.
This is an ambitious program. To have any chance of realizing these goals we need additional board members that are willing to take on one or more of these issues as their own. We need new board members to actual research how we can most effectively provide benefits to our neighbors relevant to their selected area of choice and then to shepherd these into sustainable programs.
Projects, issues or goals
Blight Homes: This easily could require a two-person team.
Blight homes are usually homes that have deteriorated from lack of care and maintenance to a level that they may be beyond repair. These homes often cannot be sold or even rented. As a result they become vacant and subsequently broke into and often occupied by squatters, drug dealers or other illegal activities.
These homes need to be identified and reported to our Neighborhood Inspector. He will examine the house and if it is not legitimately occupied board it up and report it to the City so procedures can be initiated for the City to obtain title to the property. It will then either be sold or demolished when funds are available.
The existence of blight homes in a neighborhood effectively lowers the value of every home in the neighborhood. Typically, they make the neighborhood less attractive and less safe.
We need someone to actively identify these properties and to keep our board updated. We also need to work with various programs to help home owners care-for and maintain their home so the home does not deteriorate into the blight home category.
We need to work politically with our elected representative to help find programs to better prevent, delay or correct these blight home problems.
Special Financing Help for neighbors: This is an important factor in helping prevent the blight home problem. There are special financing programs available like the Neighborhood Finance Corporation. They have several different programs available to individuals that qualify and for neighborhoods that qualify.
We need someone to become our expert on the good and bad features of these various programs and stay updated with any special funding available through the city, county, state or federal governments.
Special Home Repair Help for neighbors: This also is an important factor in helping prevent the blight home problem. There are groups that will help people that are in need of home repair work which they cannot afford. Rebuilding Des Moines and Rebuilding together can provide some of this help. There are often special groups through various church organizations that also will provide or help provide repairs for people that qualify.
We need someone to become our expert on the various groups and what is required to meet their qualification guidelines. Someone to keep our board updated on which sources can best be of help to our neighbors needing the help.
Fund Raising – Sponsors/donors for WHNA: We also will have a section on the website for sponsors/donors providing financial support for our neighborhood association. The sponsors/donors will only be able to list their name(s) and address or business name and address. To qualify as a donation to a non-profit, they will not be able to advertise or promote their services. We are projecting that these will be grouped and listed based on the financial amount donated for the year. They will be listed for the September to September year in the Website page where we list and thank the sponsors/donors.
We need someone to make contact with potential sponsors/donors and convince these people/companies to be a sponsor/donor. They will work with Curtis Nelson to insure that these people are listed in the appropriate place in the website.
The president, Dave Johnston, will be available to work with this person to provide a sales effort to convince them to be a sponsor/donor; or any other support that may be helpful in obtaining sponsors/donors.
Fund Raising – Grant Applications: We currently have funded most of our operating costs under a Community Betterment Grant provided by Polk County.
We need someone to concentrate their efforts on locating potential governmental grants and/or private organization grants. Often it takes substantial effort to locate grants that are available and the procedures to make application for the grant.
The ideal situation would be someone willing and comfortable in writing a grant application. We will work with this person to provide any assistance possible in the grant writing process.
There may be some additional follow-up work to complete a grant performance evaluation report when the grant money has been used.
Speaker scheduler: The main goal for this person is to try to find beneficial and interesting speakers to make a presentation at our meetings. Sometimes this will be a scramble to have one or two speakers; other times you will have to insist that someone wanting to speak will have to be scheduled at a future meeting.
Again, the digital camera is important. We will want pictures of each of the speakers during their presentation. We also will want an assortment of pictures from various members at the meeting. We think we will probably use a dozen pictures to post on the website page from each of our meetings.
Special Events: This may be a case of coordinating our involvement in an ongoing special event such as: National Night Out, SW 9th Open Street Event, Scrub Day. This also could be a case of creating some unique event that we want to do just in our neighborhood: Block party, or special event to fix or repair something in our neighborhood.
Again, the digital camera is important. We will want to have pictures for after event reporting on our website. We may eventually, also want to use pictures to help promote these events in the future.
Neighborhood Improvement: We do not currently have even a small park in our neighborhood. I have made several attempts to push for action in this area and have been famously unsuccessful.
There are other neighborhood associations in Des Moines that have received substantial grant funding to obtain major improvements or revitalization in their neighborhood.
Recently Sherri and James Morano have taken on a special effort to obtain shared park space with South Union Elementary School. We all should hope they will continue their efforts for this project. Anyone that would be able to help in this area, we could consider as special committee with the Sherri and James taking the lead.
Political Coordinator: As a non-profit organization, we as a Neighborhood Association are required to not favor one-party or one-politician over another politician.
However, working closely and in co-operation with all of our politicians is clearly important for our WHNA to be successful. We need to work primarily with the City Council and the County Supervisors. We also should make a substantially better effort to work with our School Board Representatives and our State Representatives.
Future of Watrous Heights Neighborhood Association
We have only been in existence since August of 2017. I have seen many ways we have and can help our neighbors. Some require only a small effort from us; others are much more involved but we have still been able to see positive results.
I have attended one or more meetings with most of the south side neighborhood associations. I have attended some board meetings for these same neighborhood associations. I am convinced the single most important factor in having a productive neighborhood association is having an active Board committed to improving the neighborhood for all our neighbors.
We also need a substantial mix of people on the board and on committees with different backgrounds and experiences and with members from all age groups.
I am convinced an active and productive Board of Directors will result in an active and involved membership from our neighborhood.
Dave Johnston, President,
Watrous Heights Neighborhood Association