A city needs to be more than just a geographic location. It must also be a community of people. Together, we create a sense of place that makes where we live somewhere special.
I believe that this sense of place comes about when we get involved. We refuse to let others define our city. We look at our city not just in what it is today, but also with a dream of what it could become if we set our minds to it.
The key to moving our city from what it has been and what it is to what it could be is to jump in and do something. For most people, that means volunteering.
There are a number of volunteer opportunities in New Port Richey.
City Boards & Committees
The city has a number of boards and advisory committees that always seem to need additional members. Some of them, such as the Police Pension Board, are pretty staid: Important, but generally not very exciting.
Some boards, such as the Land Development Review Board, have a direct impact on proposed developments and growth in the city. They review projects and requests for variances and those recommendations are forwarded to the city council.
Participating with boards and advisory committees gives citizens the opportunity to get their hands dirty, sometimes literally.
The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board and Youth Advisory Board both get involved in pulling off some of the cool events that all of us love to attend. Saturday’s Kids Day at the Grey Preserve was manned primarily by members of the Parks & Rec. Youth Advisory Board.
We have a very active Environmental Committee. They have been instrumental in promoting various green initiatives, including the Okra Occasion and proposed changes to the city’s ordinances to encourage gardening.
Our library has both a Library Board and a Friends of the Library group.
You can find a complete list of current board and committee openings here. Even if the board you think you might be interested in doesn’t have any openings, the meetings themselves are open to the public and you are welcome to attend them and confirm whether or not you would enjoy serving on that particular board.
Non-city Boards & Committees
The Friends of the Library would fall in this group. They aren’t formally part of the city, but they work very closely with the library.
New Port Richey Main Street, Inc. is another example. They are a bit of a hybrid in that a city employee serves as their executive director and the organization is housed in a city building. Main Street is best known for a number of very large special events, but is in the process of rebooting itself to more fully address all the facets that make up a well run Main Street program. Needless to say, there are LOTS of opportunities to get involved here.
The West Pasco Historical Society and Friends of the Hacienda : These two organizations are very active in the community and you can learn more about both of them via their facebook pages. It is my understanding that the improvements in Sims Park have created a need for more volunteers so that the museum hours can be expanded to meet the new demand. If you are interested, the Historical Society would love to hear from you.
People Places has held a couple of “Talk About Town” meetings for people interested in learning what makes a city like ours special. Both meetings had 30 plus people in attendance. Attendees are now looking to get plugged into specific initiatives that are being considered, such as some public art that New Port Richey Main Street and, presumably, the Cultural Affairs Committee will be looking into.
My neighborhood self-organized to pull off a block party last October. We closed a street for the evening and enjoyed a band and lots of food. Plans are underway to do it again. If you live in my neighborhood (near the old Meighan Estate), let me know and I’ll get you in contact with the organizers. If you live in some other part of the city, get to know your neighbors and organize an event of your own.
Not ready to get involved on a regular basis? Keep tabs on the agenda items for upcoming city council meetings. The meetings are generally on the first and third Tuesday nights and the agendas are posted online. If you see something of interest, pick up the phone and call us, or better yet, call and then plan to attend the meeting and speak when the floor is opened for public comment on that item.
The key is to get involved. We may have precious little influence on things in Tallahassee and even less in Washington, but we can make a real difference right here in New Port Richey. All it takes are engaged citizens willing to jump in and work to make things better.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor