Are you ready to grab the baton for the Parque Zaragoza neighborhood? The PZNA announces 2021 Elections for a new President
Chief Scoop Blogger, The #PZNA Neighborhood Nose
Every couple of years it's healthy for a community to have new leadership. Fresh approaches to old problems and new ideas keep a community engaged and relevant. And an engaged community is a healthier, happier and safer one.
Neighborhood Associations have many advantages. As a community group you get a ‘seat at the table’ at City Hall, you can apply for community or other grants, you can get Land Use development notifications from the City, you can start a neighborhood watch group, scholarship program and so much more!
As a neighborhood association president, one responsibility you have is to help facilitate meetings to either determine the group’s goals or inform them of new neighborhood developments throughout the year. Most meetings have a special guest, often a nonprofit or City Agency, wanting to provide helpful and timely information to the community.
Since its founding in June 2018, the Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association (PZNA) has grown to more than 100 members. Jen Massing Harris has acted as the PZNA president since its founding. During this time, she has built the communications platforms (website, email distribution, social media, press releases) for the group. She has also established relations with many city agencies, including City Council, Austin Police Department Region 3, Austin Parks and Recreation department, Austin Watershed, Austin Code, Austin Public Library, Austin Public Works and Austin Transportation’s Smart Trips Austin.
Most of the Jen’s PZNA time has been concentrated in these areas:
Though the PZNA’s activities are a ‘work in progress’ – see the recent #PZNA Neighborhood Nose blog ‘East Austin Neighborhood Crime Analysis Uncovers Hotspot Area; Prompts Public Safety Concerns’ - together, we have achieved a lot. Some highlights:
After two years of building the PZNA’s foundation, the time has come for Jen to hand off the baton to a successor. To be more effective, the PZNA needs not only a president but a board and bylaws to sustain the group. Currently, there is not a membership fee. Some fundraising or donation structure is probably required to cover operational expenses, such as PO Box, website, flyer costs, etc.
We will start with the priority of president as Jen is stepping down for personal reasons at the end of 2020.
A personal note from Jen: “As a neighborhood group president you can make a difference for your community. I’ve had the honor during the past two years to win many victories for the community that no one ever hears about. I’ve had the opportunity to team up and work on social good projects that I never would have been able to otherwise. It’s been a wonderful personal growth experience. And, I’m hopeful the new president will have strengths in areas where I wasn’t able to shine to push forward much needed changes our community deserves.”
Here are short descriptions of the PZNA roles/titles and responsibilities:
Set and finalize meeting agendas. Facilitate meetings. Can act as main contact for association. Follow processes and procedures outlined in bylaws. Delegate and supervise officer and member responsibilities. Ensure meetings adhere to agenda timelines. Maintain fairness and respectful behavior of meeting attendees.
Serves as an alternate to the President. Assist with planning meetings. Help maintain accurate records. Respond to mail and other inquiries. Attend other meetings as needed.
Maintain clear and accurate meeting documentation, such as minutes, attendance sheets, sign-in forms, and other relevant documentation. Ensure bylaws are maintained. Maintain an updated roster of members. Maintain records of association’s agreed-upon plans.
Manage and track association finances. Prepare budget reports. Report on fiscal issues at meetings. Balance bank statements. Maintain association’s tax-exempt status if necessary. File tax returns as needed.
Communications/Marketing Officer (If Not the President)
Update website and manage all social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
Please fill out form if you would like to volunteer for President and/or one of the other board roles.
Stronger and Safer Together Beyond Crime - A Neighborhood Watch Group is for Emergencies and Natural Disasters Too
Chief Scoop Blogger, The #PZNA Neighborhood Nose
The Parque Zaragoza neighborhood has a perfect walkability score for all the necessities and desired luxuries of modern living, including retail shopping, hip bars and restaurants and several green spaces.
Unfortunately, with the rise of criminal activities such as robbery by assault, assault with weapon and assault with injury and theft, those neighborhood assets - and even our streets and homes - feel less safe. It doesn't help that 55% of all criminal activities occur within a small 2,000 ft radius of where all the community resources are located.
This past August, the PZNA conducted a crime analysis using City of Austin's Police Department Crime Viewer Open Source database. Some 1,110 crime citations were recorded within a 2,000 ft radius/perimeter of the East 7th Street and Pleasant Valley Road intersection during a two-year period from June 2018 through July 2020.
The Parque Zaragoza neighborhood like many areas in East Austin has seen a big turnover of new residents. Unlike the old days when neighbors were also aunts, uncles or cousins, our new residents are less likely to know the person next-door. A neighborhood association has many benefits. One of them is being able to establish a street, block or 'neighborhood watch' group with proper (and required) training through a two-hour online training course provided by the Austin Police Department. See the manual and volunteer sign up below.
Neighborhood Watch groups are about getting the training to keep a better eye out for each other, not only for crime but also for natural disasters and emergencies. And, today more than ever with the pandemic continuing, a close community is stronger and safer together.
Chief Scoop Blogger
I'm Jackson Papillon, an East Austin Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood [#PZNA] Canine. I have a good nose for news and will cover two regular beats: