(From left) Betty Boyd, President of the Pralltown Neighborhood Association; Dr. Lee T. Todd, Jr., President of the University of Kentucky.
The University Neighborhood Advisory Council (UNAC) focuses on the impact of the University of Kentucky (UK) on the near neighborhoods and the opportunities for cooperative action to improve those neighborhoods in ways that bring mutual benefit to the University and the neighborhoods.
UNAC, formed in May, 2006, offers a positive joint response to long-standing issues between UK and its near neighbors. UNAC's formation followed a feasibility study, conducted in 2005, that found cautious willingness among the study participants, whether neighbors or University representatives. The feasibility study drew these conclusions:
There is enough support among university neighbors for moving to the next phase –in terms of both belief in a possible positive outcome and willingness to participate in the work – to justify creation of an Ad Hoc group to work on the design of a structure and process for the proposed Advisory Council. Neighbors are willing to put effort into improving their relationship with the university despite varying levels of skepticism about whether real change is possible. That is one side of the equation.
On its side, the university has an opportunity to overcome its present deficit with its near neighbors and gain their respect and support. To do so will require an increased level of commitment to working with the neighbors in a way that the neighbors see as meaningful, and that is meaningful because it is also useful to the university.
Since its formation, UNAC has met regularly in hospitable, facilitated meetings aimed at idea development and joint problem solving. Members from the neighborhoods and UK have chosen a focus on issues of housing and related physical improvements, the creation of a process for effective communication with neighbors on UNAC activities, and ways to identify and measure change related to UNAC activities.
In addition, three initial geographic areas have been identified for intensive attention and action:
- Maxwell Street, from South Limestone to Kentucky Avenue
- Woodland Avenue, from Maxwell Street to Hilltop Avenue
- Elizabeth Street and its cross streets
Each of these areas provides different challenges and opportunities, and each can serve as a model for similar activities in other near neighborhoods.
Members of the University Neighborhood Advisory Council (UNAC)
University of Kentucky Members
Tony Blanton, Associate Dean of Students
Bill Gombeski, Strategic Marketing Director
Lisa Higgins-Hord, Community Engagement
Barbara Jones, General Counsel, University of Kentucky
Bob Wiseman, Vice President of Facilities Management
Steve Kay, Roberts & Kay, Inc.
Student Government President