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On April 17, 1999 the first ever Alta Sita Neighborhood Summit was held at Alta Sita Elementary School in East St. Louis, IL. The event was an all day planning and problem-solving session with the goal of addressing Alta Sita's most critical environment, infrastructure, employment, housing, youth development and municipal services needs. The Summit brought together in one room residents of Alta Sita, representatives from City Hall, University of Illinois faculty and students, social service providers and leaders of other neighborhood organizations to discuss the future of Alta Sita. . The event was a huge success and the high attendance and wealth of information gathered during the day are indicative of great things to come in Alta Sita.
The event was part of the collaborative, participatory planning process conducted by the Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc. and the University of Illinois' East St. Louis Action Research Project. During February, March and April, students from urban planning, landscape architecture and architecture worked with residents on collecting physical land use data through the Neighborhood Condition Survey, gathering resident views through lengthy interviews and collecting background data from a variety of sources. During the February and March meetings of Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc., the residents developed a comprehensive S.W.O.T. Analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. They also developed an overall development goal and six objectives for meeting that goal. The SWOT and goal statements were the basis for the Summit. The Summit also came on the heels of the very successful Alta Sita Neighborhood Youth Planning Activity.
Approximately seventy people attended the Summit - a favorable turnout for an all day event. The day began at 10:00 a.m. with a welcome from Dr. Helen Hudlin, president of Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc. and from Ms. Diane Bonner, director of Community Development Block Grant Operations Corporation. Ms. Darlene Lasley, life-long resident of Alta Sita, presented the goals of the Summit and reviewed the agenda for the day. Two university students, Traci Severe and Kara Brown presented a slide show of the S.W.O.T. analysis. The attendees then made a few changes to the analysis.
The group divided into six teams: economic development, housing, family and senior development, infrastructure and municipal services, and community organizing. Prior to lunch, the six teams brainstormed on possible projects / programs to meet the objective of their focus area. Each group thought of at least twenty possibilities.
A delicious lunch was catered by Dewey's Barbecue - an Alta Sita favorite and Sterling Catering - an ESLARP favorite! After lunch, the six teams re-grouped and began prioritizing their program ideas according to Current Year , Short Term and Long Term projects. The teams put each idea into one of these categories and listed them in order of importance. The final team activity was to select one of the prioritized programs and fully develop it in term of costs, implementation, and participating organizations.
Each team then selected a spokesperson to present their developed program to the large group. The six program ideas were received with great enthusiasm and representatives from City Hall supported the program ideas. The programs presented included a new community center, a three-pronged strategy for strengthening Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc., an elderly or disabled housing rehab assistance program, and a sewer improvement plan.
ESLARP believes that the event was one of the best neighborhood gatherings ever. Attendance was high, attendees were very active and tremendous ideas came out of the issue teams. The next step is to assess the summit at the May 11, 1999 neighborhood meeting and then move forward on completing the five-year revitalization plan.
Document author(s) : Cathy
Last modified: 10-May-99