Member Councils Make Membership More Meaningful

Article excerpt

Bringing people together to learn, plan and coordinate responses to issues that really matter is one way the National League of Cities helps its member cities.

Three NLC member councils and a tourism communities network--an experimental electronic community of interest--give city officials an opportunity to work together on meaningful projects, share experiences and information and create relationships that are valued and mutually beneficial.

NLC's Congress of Cities is a time when the member councils wrap up their year's work and celebrate their accomplishments and fellowship. This year was no exception for the First Tier Suburbs, Small Cities and Central Cities councils.

First Tier Suburbs Council

First Tier Suburbs Council members are concerned with the unique set of challenges facing municipalities located outside of central cities and inside the ring of developing suburbs and rural areas, including organizing for regional cooperation; housing, education and transportation needs; changing demographics; and economic revitalization.

This past year the First Tier Suburbs Council approved and endorsed a report, Unifying Voices, Confronting Challenges: A Resource Guide for Developing Regional Collaborations of First Tier Suburbs. Council Chair Diana Ewy Sharp, councilmember, Prairie Village, Kan., spearheaded the project to address the need for guidance for first tier communities that want to work together to advance a legislative agenda, share best practices, identify resources and solve mutual problems.

During the group's annual business meeting, Joseph Schilling, director, National Vacant Properties Campaign, Washington, D.C., led a discussion on issues affecting aging housing stock such as abandonment and foreclosures and revitalization of aging housing stock.

During 2006, the council will continue to engage around the housing topic.

Small Cities Council

Summing up the work of the 2005 Small Cities Council, Council Chair Lori Jeffrey-Clark, trustee, Estes Park, Colo., noted the council's involvement with the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families' (YEF Institute) Afterschool Initiative. Council members provided information to NLC staff about their community's afterschool programs to help the YEF Institute develop programs targeted to small communities.

Established in 1976 to serve as the "voice for small cities" in NLC, the council also provided input on research projects in NLC's Center for Research and Municipal Programs, focusing on rural communities and land use strategies for small cities.

During the business meeting of the council, the Mayor of Belle Isle, Fla., William Brooks, and George Lewis, the Mississippi Municipal League executive director, led a discussion on emergency preparedness and response for small cities. …