Community activism is making a comeback in Johnstown.

Spurred in part by a push from City Council, volunteer groups are springing up in neighborhoods across the city.

They are patrolling their streets, picking up trash on their sidewalks and fighting blight on their blocks. And, perhaps most importantly, they are banding together to speak with one voice.

“I’m energized by how enthusiastic people are,” said city Councilwoman Ann Wilson, an 8th Ward resident.

Neighborhood groups are nothing novel in Johnstown.

A prime example is Moxham Renaissance Inc., which has worked for years to improve that section.

But at least six groups – either newly minted or fresh incarnations of dormant organizations – have taken root within the past year.

Among the groups is the 8th Ward/Osborne Area Civic Association, which arose after Memorial Medical Center proposed community-improvement projects such as installation of new sidewalks and trees.

“The idea behind the (citizens) organization is to keep that going,” said Cynde Smith, a Confer Avenue resident.

Smith, a mother of six who has lived in the 8th Ward for nine years, said the neighborhood group likely will focus on issues such as blight and improving the overall quality of life.

“This is more about trying to keep the neighborhood vital and trying to bring more families in,” Smith said. “It’s kind of neat to see that people do care.”

While citizens such as Smith will serve as the driving force behind grassroots groups, the high level of civic interest may have been sparked by a recent effort to refocus the city’s resources on outlying neighborhoods.

“We had spent lots of time, effort, energy and dollars on the downtown,” Mayor Don Zucco said.

So officials this year implemented citizen-complaint forms that also are available on the city’s Web site, and administrators have been attending community forums to answer questions.

“It’s probably cut down on the number (of complaints) falling through the cracks,” City Manager Curt Davis said.

In addition, each City Council member has been assigned to oversee and coordinate citizen involvement in certain neighborhoods.

Councilman Anthony “Red” Pinizzotto has nurtured a West End citizens group that attracted fewer than 20 people for its first session and more than 50 for its second.

Also, a crime watch likely will soon start in that area, joining new watches already operating in Hornerstown and Moxham.

“People are saying, ‘Let’s take back the neighborhoods,’ ” Pinizzotto said. “I think that’s something all the groups ought to use as their slogan.”

Sustaining volunteer groups in the long run is a challenge. But officials are hoping the city’s surge in activism has staying power.

“You’ve got to have the right people and the right projects,” Wilson said.

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