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The City of St. Augustine remains committed to providing accessibility to all and provides for handicapped accessible parking in the city. For a map of accessible parking locations, Click Here To notify the city regarding accessibility concerns contact Todd Grant, Public Works Deputy Director, Phn: 904.825.1040, Fax: 904.209.4286, Email: email@example.com. You may also write City of St. Augustine, P.O. Box 210, St. Augustine, FL 32085-0210.
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Cathy Dupont, Neighborhood Council Coordinator, handles a constituent’s inquiry from her office on the first floor of City Hall.
Even in a small town like St. Augustine where it seems everyone knows everyone, approaching government with questions can sometimes seem a little daunting. A quick glance in the phone book revels more that three dozen phone listings for the City of St. Augustine, which, on one hand, helps callers find the person who can answer a question, but many times, a call to City Hall begins with the question "I not sure you’re the right person, but here’s my problem."
"When you don’t know who to call, you can always start with the Neighborhood Council Office," says Cathy Dupont, Neighborhood Council Coordinator. "That doesn’t mean I know the answer, but I can find the answer to just about any question. That’s what I’m here for."
Created a little over a year and a half ago, the Neighborhood Council Office, or NCO, performs two primary functions:
While neighborhood associations are all independent organizations that receive no official sanctioning or oversight from the city, the Commission created the NCO to assist associations in their development and operation. Thus far, the city has eight associations which are fully organized with half that many more nearing formal organization status. The Neighborhood Council of St. Augustine, Inc. is the umbrella organization for the associations
"I spend about half of my time working with associations, both those that are up and running and those that are just starting out," said Cathy. "Whether it’s helping an association plan a membership drive or get through the sometimes difficult world of bylaws, or just listening to their concerns and goals and being their advocate at City Hall, my objective it to see every one of these groups succeed."
The other half of Cathy’s time is spent fielding a myriad of questions that range from the simple to the very, very complex.
"I might get a call with a question about where to pay a parking ticket followed by how to add a stop sign at an intersection. One is a quick and simple answer; the other takes much longer," said Cathy.
In addition to the phone calls she fields, Cathy also generates volumes of written responses to emails and letters representing equally wide-ranging requests or complaints. A tourist may have had a bad experience and wants to sound off, or a resident may dislike a ruling by the Planning and Zoning Board. Cathy writes letters to both, first taking the time to research the topic so the response is informative.
Not all of the coordinator’s time is spent in the NCO. Cathy also spends time out of the office often after normal office hours attending the monthly meetings held by associations and the council or visiting with citizens in their neighborhoods.
"It’s important that the coordinator be at association meetings to hear ideas and concerns first hand and many times be able to immediately answer questions or offer suggestions. And, when working with individuals, well, sometimes the only way to really understand a person’s problem you have to go stand in his or her front yard and see it for yourself," said Cathy.
Of course, many municipalities across the state have neighborhood association programs and Cathy remains in close contact with them, sharing ideas and learning how their organizations are structured. Cathy also serves on the State Planning Committee for the Florida Neighborhoods Conference, an annual gathering of association leaders and city staff liaisons.
The NCO is located on the first floor of City Hall and is most easily reached from the Granada Street side directly across from the Flagler College auditorium. The office includes a citizen’s resource library with a wide variety of information and governmental documents. The office is open between 8:00am and 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.
Cathy can be reached by calling 825.1053 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find our more about the Neighborhood Council program, click here.