Starting a Neighborhood Association
Ever chatted with your neighbors while out in your yard or shared a laugh over the fence? You’re on your way towards starting a neighborhood association! Casual connections between neighbors are the first steps toward building a more formal, organized neighborhood association. From there, you can expand to include more neighbors in the conversation. Leverage social media, door-to-door conversations, or host small, informal gatherings to start to get your neighbors together and get them talking. In these early stages, there’s no formal process, and the only way to go wrong is to stop trying!
Getting started can seem intimidating, but is actually pretty simple:
- Talk with your neighbors about creating a neighborhood association
- Identify a core group of interested neighbors who would like to be engaged and formally recognized as a neighborhood association
- Work with your group to determine the following:
- Name for the organization
- Agreed upon mission/statement of purpose
- Geographical boundaries
- Contact person(s)
- Contact the City to start the process towards formal recognition
Review the City's Neighborhood Association Handbook (PDF) for a complete overview and important tips as you begin to organize.
Formal recognition allows neighborhood associations the opportunity to apply for grants for project funding, access City promotions and printing, and have stronger influence with direct connections to City staff. City staff will work with you to formally recognize your association and maximize the benefits of formal recognition. They will help you with:
- Contacting the alderpersons of your area to share your intent of formal recognition
- Applying for a neighborhood association organizational grant
- Completing the West Allis Neighborhood Association Application Form
- Hosting a public meeting to discuss the proposed neighborhood association
- Compiling supporting documentation, including:
- Association by-laws
- Leadership structure and description (e.g. Board of Directors, Committees)
- Membership listing (names, addresses, contact information)
- Membership Policy - State the requirements for membership in the organization, including any fees. Membership should be available to all residents, landowners, and business people who represent the social, economic and ethnic make-up of the neighborhood.
- Meeting Policy - State the location, time and number of neighborhood meetings held during each year. The suggested minimum standard is four meetings per year.
Once formally recognized, the Mayor will present the neighborhood with a Proclamation of Recognition, and the City will share an announcement in its bi-annual print newsletter and on social media to help promote your association.
Maintaining A Neighborhood Association
Neighborhood associations need passionate, dedicated members to keep the momentum going. Your organization’s leadership will continue to schedule meetings, recruit new members, and communicate any needs your association may have with the City. Remember, neighborhood associations are resident-driven, so your association will continue to be the driving force of change in your neighborhoods.
The City of West Allis is also here to help! The City will connect with your neighborhood association’s leadership regularly to provide support and make sure projects and goals are moving forward. The City also offers grants to support neighborhood associations' efforts. Learn more about our FOCUS grants here.
To maintain formal recognition by the City, recognized neighborhoods will be asked to submit information each year about boundaries, contact information, sign-in sheets, meeting minutes, and by-laws changes.