Connie Fitch-Taylor

Ward 1 Councilwoman Connie Fitch-Taylor gives a presentation to a room full of northwest Auburn community members. She invited them all to join her new NWA Task Force

Councilwoman Connie Fitch-Taylor introduced her new Northwest Auburn Task Force this week in a presentation to Auburn residents at the Boykin Community Center.

Fitch-Taylor founded the task force after leaving the Diversity Task Force, which was established by Mayor Ron Anders shortly after he was elected last fall.

The Diversity Task Force, which includes a limited number of members, did not align with what Fitch-Taylor wanted to focus on in her community and did not allow for all residents to be involved, she said.

"I was ... a minority of the diversity group," she said. "One thing about people, they want to be involved, and we have to find a way to get them involved. We can't separate ourselves."

She hopes the NWA Task Force will inspire positive change in her ward and in the city and that it will encourage community members to be involved, serve and mingle with one another.

In the first meeting of the NWA Task Force, Fitch-Taylor outlined the guidelines and gave people an opportunity to sign up to work on committees that cover an array of duties, from event planning and communication to voter registration and assisting with senior and children programs, among many other things.

She debuted the group's motto: "We will never move forward if we keep looking back," and stressed this idea throughout the meeting, also noting that the task force's vision is to focus on tomorrow and what it wants to become for future generations while its mission is to focus on today and what it will do to improve the community.

"No one will bring up past leaders," Fitch-Taylor announced as one of the guidelines. "I really don't care what somebody else didn't do, or should have done and that type of thing. We're just focusing on what we're going to do as a task force."

The task force will meet the second Tuesday of each month; Fitch-Taylor has reserved the auditorium in the Boykin Community Center on those dates for a whole year.

The next meeting will be on Sept. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m.

During the meetings, committees will have a chance to share what they have been working on and, if they have nothing to share during their 15 minutes, they can bring a guest speaker to address the group about a community topic.

She challenged those present at this week's meeting to recruit others to participate, especially young members of the community.

"They just won't come out," she said, adding that the task force needs to work on showing them their value. "These young people can really, really go to work, and we're going to try our best to get them off the street."

In an effort to connect with young university students, Fitch-Taylor said she is going to set up a booth on Auburn University's campus soon. The booth would allow her to potentially meet students who now live in her ward, which has seen an increase in student-housing projects recently.

These projects were brought up at the meeting, and Fitch-Taylor said that there will be a task force committee who will work on helping property owners in northwest Auburn retain and fix up their properties when they are tempted to sell to a developer.

"If you have property, please do not sell your property to developers, because what developers do, you can do the same thing to your own property. You can develop your own property; you don't have to sell it to somebody," Fitch-Taylor said. "It's too late in some areas, but we do have one community that we have left, and this is our town — if we could just hold onto it."

Fitch-Taylor also stressed having more community events and creating an Unsung Legends Day, which would honor significant players in Auburn's history, like the city's first black police officer.

Committees must each have no less than five members. Those wishing to get involved can email Fitch-Taylor at ctaylor@auburnalabama.org or attend the next task force meeting on Sept. 10.

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