Last night we held a special reception and presentation to conclude the inaugural class of the Bellaire Citizens Academy. By any measure it has been a great success, as part of our broader effort to better engage with the citizens we serve. In particular, the Academy provides an opportunity for residents to interact with staff members representing several departments, to form relationships with the professionals who provide our city services and to learn more about what they do to make Bellaire such a great place to live.
Over the course of six weeks, 16 citizen participants got a behind-the-scenes view of city operations, including tours of the library, parks system, police and fire departments, emergency operations center and lots of other great stuff in between. They learned about city finances and how our priorities are developed, funded and implemented. Of course, they also got to know each other, strengthening our sense of community.
While we hope Academy participants will choose to remain involved in the future, whether by serving on citizen boards and commissions or perhaps even running for City Council, that’s not our main goal. The purpose of the Academy is simply to enhance the citizen experience by promoting access to and a better understanding of the inner-workings of the City. As one class member put it in his evaluation of the Academy, "A more informed citizenry is a win for Bellaire."
This initial class worked really hard, participated fully and helpfully suggested program improvements to incorporate next year. Indeed, we are already planning and looking forward to the 2017 Academy. Interested residents are encouraged to contact Raquel Porras in the City Manager's Office for information.