Nederland 101 launches for greater community involvement, education

Published 12:18 am Wednesday, January 3, 2024

NEDERLAND — Chris Duque knows it’s hard for some residents to define what the City of Nederland is in terms of the municipal boundaries.

Some who live outside city limits still have the same zip code, so it says Nederland, Texas, for people even though that is not within city limits. Others live within the Nederland Independent School District but are not within city limit boundaries.

“We have a city limits map, so that is going to be one of the things we want to talk about,” said Duque, the city manager for Nederland. “When we say the City of Nederland, this is what we are talking about.”

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Duque and members of his staff are launching City of Nederland 101, a free informational series that begins this month.

Participants meet for six sessions January through March, with most meetings beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Sessions are held at various City of Nederland facilities, including City Hall.

Although free, there is an application and the informal community gatherings are only open to those 18 or older who live within the city or a business owner of a business within the city.

Applications can be picked up at city hall or taken from the city’s Facebook page. They must be turned in by Jan. 18. The classes begin Jan. 29.

Contact Duque at 409-723-1503 or cduque@ci.nederland.tx.us with additional application questions.

“Whether it is questions about our elections, finances, whether it is about utility bills or whatever, you want to have a community and a government where everyone feels information can flow freely between one another,” Duque said. “It’s wanting to explain the process of how an ordinance becomes an ordinance from staff to council.”

City leaders have previously run a series of town halls that didn’t produce the desired turnout, so this is a revamped effort to get more people involved with more information.

“I want to go over the basics,” Duque said. “Some people don’t understand what a manager-council form of government is in terms of how the city is run on a day-to-day basis. We want to talk about finances, make sure they know how we spend money, how money is collected, the process for taxes. We want to have sessions with the police department, fire department, talk about central dispatch, talk about ambulance services, talk about emergency management.”

The Nederland Chamber of Commerce and Nederland Economic Development Corporation are joining when the gatherings focus on economic development.

When discussion turns to quality-of-life ideas, there will be discussion concerning the parks department, library and more.

“It’s all just going to depend on where we see the conversation going,” Duque said. “We want it to a be an open dialogue. We want people to ask questions. It’s going to be a process of us learning, too.”

Organizers stress a more informed community is better for everyone.

“The (City of Nederland) staff will benefit from this because we are going to hear directly from our community and citizens,” Duque said. “It will help us understand what we need to make sure everyone knows. Where we’re not doing well, there is going to be feedback in terms of services. It will help us better understand what we’re not seeing or have not caught.

“Hopefully, long term, this is something that continues to evolve and grow and we’ll just go from there.”

Six sessions are planned, and each one- to two-hour session takes place with guest speakers, tours and hands-one learning opportunities.