Neighborhood Associations

What is a Neighborhood Association?


A Neighborhood Association is a group of residents, business representatives, and/or other interested citizens that devote their time and energy to improve and enhance a well-defined, geographic area that they and others live. Neighborhood associations offer an opportunity for government officials, developers or others to solicit input from the residents that live within a specific geographic area.


Most neighborhood associations are concerned with issues that affect the quality of life in the community. Building upon the assets of their neighborhood, residents can identify and prioritize important projects for the neighborhood to undertake. Neighborhoods can be proactive by preparing neighborhood plans, emergency preparedness plans, or undertaking specific projects such as starting community gardens, upgrading park equipment, or installing traffic calming on a residential street. A collective group of motivated residents is extremely effective: if in doubt, take a look at the long list of successes stemming from our community leaders efforts.

A neighborhood association meeting, project, or social event is a place to meet neighbors, exchange ideas, prioritize projects, propose solutions, and implement plans for the neighborhood.

Why Start a Neighborhood Association?
Neighborhoods usually organize to:

  • Build a sense of community among neighbors
  • Address a particular issue of the neighborhood
  • Provide the neighborhood with an effective communication link with government officials regarding policy, planning, and projects
  • Empower residents to work together in improving their neighborhood

Organizing a neighborhood brings people together to form a collective, united voice. A well-organized, diverse group of neighbors can be a powerful force in building a cohesive neighborhood where people want to become involved in neighborhood issues and neighbors lives. You are not in this alone: your district alderperson, neighborhood planning staff, and your peers across Madison are willing to give you guidance.

Start-Up Organizing Tips
Organizing and managing a neighborhood association is a tough job. While it may seem difficult at first, developing your association will be enormously exciting as people come together to address important issues and learn to work together as a group.

  • Remember: getting your neighbors together doesn't need to be hard. Keep in mind some important tips as you begin to organize: but we've got the resources you need.
  • Building an organization is a process. It cannot be done overnight. Be patient. Identify your priorities and build them step-by-step.
  • Set realistic goals. Start small and build upward. As your organizational capacity grows, your organization can expand in what is possible from year to year.
  • How you treat people is crucial to your success. By treating people with respect and integrity, people will be more likely to get involved in the organization.
  • Communication is a key. Open, transparent, and frequent communications to government officials, neighbors, businesses, and other stakeholders in your neighborhood is important. Face-to-face interactions to social media technology can help you get out the word.

People join neighborhood groups for a variety of reasons. One of them is to get to know their neighbors and to feel a sense of community. So as you build your organization, be sure to have fun.

City of Madison Neighborhood Association Recognition
The Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development, Planning Division maintains an electronic file of the recognized neighborhood associations. Many City departments and agencies solicit neighborhood association opinions on upcoming approvals of development projects, programs and services, and other changes proposed in particular neighborhoods.

A Neighborhood Association should meet the following standards to be officially recognized by the City of Madison:

  • The Neighborhood Association must have followed written procedures to establish organization: contact district alderperson and Planning Division, placed Class II notice in local newspaper, and submit information to Planning Division.
  • The Neighborhood Association should occupy a geographically distinct and specific area that does not overlap with any other recognized Neighborhood Association's defined boundaries.
  • The Neighborhood Association should have a Board of Directors and/or Officers democratically elected by its general membership.
  • All meetings and elections must be open to the public. Efforts should be made to conduct meetings in an accessible, public place. Membership should be inclusive.

Neighborhood Association Registration
Four simple steps is all it takes.

  • Contact your Alderperson to inform him/her of your intention to create a neighborhood association. Your Alderperson will be helpful in providing you with useful information on any other neighborhood associations that are functioning within the area. Call the Common Council Office at 608- 266-4071 to leave a message for your Alderperson.
  • Contact Jule Stroick, Neighborhood Planner, Department of Planning and Development to discuss establishing a neighborhood association. She will discuss the steps in forming a neighborhood association, setting boundaries, and refer you to other technical information that may be useful in your neighborhood-based initiatives.
  • Place a Class II Public Notice in the Wisconsin State Journal or Capital Times indicating the time and place of the official organizational meeting. We also encourage you to post notices at frequently visited places in the neighborhood such as a local grocery store, the public schools, or go door to door inviting your neighbors to this meeting.
  • Public Notice Example: Residents of the Vilas Neighborhood are invited to attend an organizational meeting at Monroe Street Public Library on March 4, 1995, at 7:30 p.m. for the purpose of establishing a neighborhood association, adopting neighborhood boundaries and to elect officers. The proposed boundaries of the neighborhood includes the area bounded by Monroe Street, Regent Street. S. Randall Avenue, and Vilas Park and Lake Wingra. Contact Beth Madison at 608-222-2222.

Forward a copy of the public notice, a map of your neighborhood boundaries, and the name, address, and phone number of a neighborhood contact person to:

Department of Planning and Community & Economic Development
Jule Stroick, Neighborhood Planner
Madison Municipal Building, Suite 017 (Lower Level)
215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Madison, WI 53703
Tel: 608-267-8744
Fax: 608-267-8739


Last Updated: 11/07/2018