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New Neighborhood Services Department in Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi Assistant City Manager Neiman Young (center) introduces city staffers leading the new Neighborhood Services Department: Liza Lopez (left), Jennifer Buxton, and Tracey Cantu. Screen-captured photo

City neighborhood services are now under one department, the newly formed — and aptly named — Neighborhood Services Department, Mayor Paulette Guajardo announced at a news conference at George Evans Elementary School on Thursday, April 29.

“Under the new Neighborhood Services Department, expect to see lasting improvements in communities,” Guajardo said. “With this new department, we’ll be building stronger neighborhoods in ways never seen before.”

The new department combines Animal Care Services, Code Enforcement, Grant Monitoring, and Homeless Services and Workforce Housing divisions. The mission is to “enhance our citizens’ quality of life” and “support neighborhood sustainability, growth, and safety,” Guarjado said.

The new department, with a $30 million budget, will combine 90 full-time and 11 part-time positions.

“We are going to bring all that together beginning today,” City Manager Peter Zanoni said. “The focus of the new department is to bring concentrated efforts to particular neighborhoods in need.”

The Mussett neighborhood, where the news conference was held, recently served as a pilot for what a combined neighborhood initiative can do.

“We brought beautification, pavement restoration, lighting, and homeless initiatives to this 34-square-block area over several weeks,” Zanoni said. “We removed 22 tons of trash and bulk items, resolved 46 code violations, paved and repaired blocks of streets, and replaced 73 street lights.”

The success of that work will soon show up in other neighborhoods.

Representatives from three of the city’s many neighborhoods spoke, including the Rev. Harry Williams of Mount Zion Baptist Church in the Mussett neighborhood

“We deal with the homeless, the mentally ill, and all sorts of problems in this neighborhood,” Williams said. “I’m glad to see these changes being made, and I look forward to seeing the results of these changes.”

Speaking for the North Beach Community Association, Carrie Robertson Meyer encouraged other areas of the city to also form organizations to strengthen their connections to the new department.

“I’ve been volunteering in my neighborhood for 13 years now,” she said. “For 25 years, this neighborhood has been following the mission to preserve North Beach.”

Neighbors getting to know one another, organizing to present their concerns and solutions to city officials, and working with city departments all helped make those changes happen, she said.

Marvin Jones spoke on behalf of the Padre Island Property Owners Association, also expressing the importance of working closely with city leaders to effect change.

“We need the help of the city, and we appreciate all they do for us,” he said. “We look forward to code enforcement in particular. We have overgrown lots, and lots of zoning issues.”

It’s the little things that make a difference, Zanoni agreed in closing.

“With the city, millions of dollars make a big difference, but you need to start with the little things,” he said. “It’s about bringing dinner to that new family across the street, volunteering, coming to City Council. Today’s action has a little of both. It includes the little stuff and the bold moves as well.”

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