Residents of the neighborhood immediately adjacent to the Frostburg State University campus are in the process of forming a neighborhood association that will undertake a variety of community improvement projects.
“Our neighborhood has certainly undergone a lot of changes in recent years,” says Mary Jo Deffinbaugh, a long time resident of Wood Street. “The area used to be comprised of family-occupied houses and now has a great number of student rental properties. It’s time that we work together to build a community for all of us.”
Faculty and staff who are working with the Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC), a grant awarded to FSU by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, are providing technical assistance to the residents in their efforts to form the neighborhood association.
According to Kathleen Powell, associate professor of social work at FSU and advisor to the local effort, a neighborhood association is an organization that is developed by and for the residents of a given geographic area. Neighborhood associations undertake community improvement projects that are determined by the residents themselves.
“A neighborhood association is a voice of the people and a tool for them to participate in decisions that affect their daily lives,” notes Powell.
The city of Cumberland has a well-developed network of neighborhood associations. Because the Community Outreach Partnership Center is designed to build positive relationships between the university and the community at-large, staff decided to reach out to the neighborhood immediately adjacent to the FSU campus (the Beall, Maple, Wood, Center and Bowery streets area) to explore interest in forming a neighborhood association.
Through a service-learning project last semester, a group of social work students from FSU began to lay the groundwork for a neighborhood association. They researched models of associations in other college towns, initiated conversations with local residents and city officials, and began to explore the kinds of community improvement projects that the local association might want to initiate. The association is building a base of support among residents of the community and hopes to sponsor a “Welcome Wagon” activity for the fall when student renters return to the area.
Residents of the neighborhood as well as landlords who own rental property in the area are welcome to participate in the association.
For more information, contact Mary Jo Deffinbaugh at 301-689-9333.