08/23/06 — Neighbors share their concerns

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Neighbors share their concerns

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 23, 2006 1:54 PM

On the streets near Harris Street and Bunche Drive, delinquent children often roam the streets at night, neighbors say -- cursing, making threats and breaking into cars.

Goldsboro Mayor Al King, City Council members and other officials listened to the concerns of about 100 residents of the neighborhood who crowded the lawn at Fire Station No. 4 Tuesday, as the city-sponsored neighborhood meeting schedule picked back up.

City officials started a series of community meetings last year to elicit opinions from city residents.

On Tuesday night, Tracy Holden told council members that there is "something to the gang rumor" circulating throughout the community -- youths who run the streets late at night and make residents feel uneasy about going into some area businesses after the sun goes down.

"There are times late at night when there are children out all over the place," she said. "Children have no business being outside at 10 o'clock at night. It's trouble."

Mrs. Holden suggested a curfew for city-children and increased police presence as practical solutions.

"That way, we'll feel safer and our neighborhood will feel safer, too," she said.

Larnell Reese agreed that there was an increasing presence of "undesirables" walking down neighborhood streets at night. Break-ins are becoming commonplace, he said.

"I've got double-locks on the main door and a lock on the screen door," Reese told the crowd. "I want to get back to where I can leave my doors open again."

Amy Garofalo knows something about crime in the area, too. She was robbed in her driveway and had to pay for installation of lighting to feel safe.

"The kids that live around there, yeah, they are out late at night," she said.

Mrs. Garofalo, like the others who expressed concerns about crime in the area, asked officials on hand to increase police presence on their blocks -- even if it simply means a patrol car passing by every once in a while.

The Rev. Charles Williams has represented the neighborhood, and the others in District 4, for 11 years. He said a curfew might work, but striking at the cause of teen-crime would help much more.

"I think (a curfew) might help to prevent some of the crime," he said. "But we need something to occupy the minds of these young people ... or they will wind up in the penal system."

Crime wasn't the only problem discussed Tuesday. In fact, a large number of those who stood behind the lectern had water on their minds.

William Cooper said he "wishes somebody could figure out" a way to control flooding near his home on Graham Street.

"It can rain hard for 15 to 20 minutes and you can't drive your car down the street," he said. "That just shouldn't be."

Edith Ward agreed and said drainage problems have created a breeding ground for mosquitos.

The need to resurface streets in the neighborhood, a lack of activities for seniors and large rotting trees were also listed as problems in need of a quick-fix.

Some residents passed on voicing their concerns and instead, offered solutions.

Don Callahan told his neighbors that many of the problems facing Goldsboro residents have solutions -- if community leaders take charge and help city officials identify them.

"When you see these things going on, tell your neighbors," he said. "Just help these (officials) some. We're over 52,000 inside the city-limits and they only have 1,000. The city does a good job. When we need help, they come."

Council member Bob Waller told the crowd that the goal of all elected officials is to open lines of communication between the concerned and those who have the power to affect change. He thanked those who took time out of their evening to attend the meeting and asked for their continued support.

"Thank you for being interested," he said. "This is your city and we want you to be proud of it."

The next neighborhood on the city's schedule is the area around Oak Forest. On Sept. 26, a similarly formatted gathering will take place there.