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York City is ready for triage.

The city has 20 neighborhoods in its 5.2 square miles, from the Avenues in the northwest corner to Springdale in the southeast. The areas have different problems, ranging from crime and drugs in some areas to blighted properties to a lack of useful stores or services.

But the city is in no position to tackle all of the problems at once, so it needs to come up with a strategic plan to get the most bang for its buck.

And who better to help the city than the people who live there.

Shilvosky Buffaloe, the acting director of York City's Community and Economic Development department, took a plan to the Alliance of Neighborhood Associations on Monday: Help us figure out the best actions for the city by telling us what your neighborhood needs.

After all, who knows a neighborhood better than the people who live there?

The neighborhood action plan will gather as much information as possible about each neighborhood, then the city government will take that information and form a strategy for improving conditions across York City.

"We just want to make intelligent, smarter decisions," Buffaloe said.

Buffaloe plans to take his team door-to-door through the city, assessing each property to see where improvements will do the most good.

Throughout the city, there are buildings marked with a red X to warn firefighters not to enter because the buildings are unstable. But beyond that, there are the buildings that are recently abandoned or just blighted, there are vacant lots that have become a draw for criminals and litter, there are alleys and backyards that somehow fill up with trash.

The idea is that the people active in the city's 17 neighborhood associations will be able to help pinpoint the areas where the city can make the most difference quickly, which will then make those areas more attractive for residents and businesses and thus gradually improve the whole city.

It's a good idea, and one that has been kicking around for years: Ask the residents what needs to be fixed and they'll give you a list. Just check how popular any pothole hotline is in the spring.

We hope Buffaloe and his team are able to come up with a good plan both for taking a close look at properties in the city and for dealing with the problems quickly and efficiently.

To do that, they'll need the cooperation of city residents. They'll also need to check any preconceptions they have and really listen to those people and digest what they're saying before moving on to an action plan.

If that can happen, there's a chance that this plan could actually improve life in the city.

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