Reaching for a unified voice to guide Ventura's old town, the just-forming Downtown Community Council and the decades-old Downtown Ventura Assn. agreed this week to merge into a single organization.
The new group will adopt the name Downtown Community Council. "Some people had voiced concerns about having two groups, about the voice at City Hall being diluted," said Loretta Merewether, one of the founding members of the Downtown Community Council.
Representatives from both groups met on Tuesday night to work out the merger agreement.
The Downtown Ventura Assn.--made up mostly of merchants--has traditionally focused on redevelopment issues, O'Neil said. The fledgling Downtown Community Council, in contrast, planned to focus on residents' interests, such as safety and social issues.
But there was considerable overlap, O'Neil said.
Other areas of Ventura--east, west and midtown--have established community councils to represent neighborhood interests. Downtown Ventura is the last part of the city to organize its residents.
But O'Neil said downtown's organization will be different.
"We have the opportunity here to create a whole new community council organization, different from any created so far," he said.
Merewether said the group will be split into committees, one focusing on revitalization issues, another on social services. Overseeing both would be an executive board--which will speak for the entire group.
The new organization, which will function as a community council, will hold its first meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 36 S. Figueroa.