The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods resolves to get bigger.
That was the sentiment expressed by new chairman Tom Tidwell at the December Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting.
“We need to work on boosting membership,” he told the neighborhood group.
Tidwell recently took over the chairmanship from Jim King and the attendance at the December meeting was lighter than usual. The BCN was formed more than five years ago and its influence in local politics is still strong.
Brian McHugh, director of Transportation and Planning with the Buckhead Community Improvement District, spoke at the December meeting and updated the group on various road projects intended to ease up some of the gridlock in the area. Past guests have included city council members and state and federal legislators.
BCN secretary Gordon Certain said there are 26 neighborhood members now. At the BCN’s peak there were about 30, and it’s a roster that fluctuates. Certain said when the BCN began it had 13 member neighborhoods.
Gordon said even though the number of neighborhoods has fluctuated, the group’s influence isn’t declining.
“My guess is we cover about 75 percent of Buckhead’s population right now, which is pretty strong,” Certain said.
Membership isn’t expensive. It costs $100 per neighborhood.
Certain the biggest advantage to joining BCN is better communications among neighborhoods. One of Atlanta’s planning tools is the Neighborhood Planning Units. Buckhead has several and they don’t always communicate. The BCN was formed in part to address this lack of cohesion.
“[It’s] being able to jointly assess and solve problems and get around NPU boundaries,” Certain said. “The NPUs tend to be self contained. We’re right across from NPU-A in some places and NPU-B in other places … Communications get hard if you have boundaries.”
Tidwell said it’s also a way to make the voices of the Buckhead residents stronger.
“A 500-person neighborhood association might not have as much influence as a 10,000-person neighborhood association council,” Tidwell said.
Certain said the quickest way to boost membership numbers is to give members a reason to attend BCN meetings. The meetings usually have one or more speakers who either hold elected office, represent someone who does or works as a public official.
“I think good speakers are just key,” Certain said.
Tidwell said the while the BCN represents a majority of Buckhead residents, he thinks it could be still be better.
“I still want to reach out to all the neighborhoods and get 100 percent participation,” Tidwell said.