Neighborhood groups are a great way for the city to engage residents in city development issues and to promote and foster confidence in urban design projects, according to Suffolk Law students participating in an advanced state and local government practicum led by Professor Janice Griffith.

Griffith’s class presented their proposed policy changes about the role played by Boston’s residential neighborhood associations to Senior Assistant Corporation Counsel Adam Cederbaum of the City of Boston Law Department on April 23, 2014.

Given the ad hoc nature of these organizations and the lack of a formal governmental structure in which they work, Cederbaum had proposed that the students help the city by providing some ideas for a new model policy on residential neighborhood associations that could be implemented.

Students in practicum class standing at table looking at documents.

Students in Griffith's class, from left, Richard Clark, Ana Sofia Baillet, Matthew Gemme, Robert Gallagher, Richard Fallago and Margaret Suprey.

From their research, the students provided examples of how other cities structure neighborhood input and recommended a procedure and criteria for qualifying neighborhood groups. The students also provided recommendations as to the specific functions these groups should perform, including land use planning.

Griffith, who worked with Cederbaum to develop the project and with the students to implement it, said that the students had the great experience of working together and sharing ideas as to the formation of an ideal policy.

“They also had the experience of communicating with a real live client and meeting the client’s needs,” Griffith said. “We really worked to hone oral and written communication skills as well.”