Ending crime a top priority, residents say
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 25, 2006 1:52 PM
Steve Pulliam said Beech Street is no longer the "pleasant place" he moved to 25 years ago.
The children who used to play in the front lawns that line his neighborhood have been replaced by drug dealers and prostitutes, he told those who gathered for the final city-sponsored neighborhood meeting of the year Tuesday.
"You can see them out there in the middle of the day making their drug deals," Pulliam said. "Openhanded. And there's prostitution up and down the street -- young women. I don't know what we can do."
He and more than a dozen other neighbors from the blocks surrounding Herman Park gathered there to voice concerns to members of the Goldsboro City Council, department heads and the city's management team.
Mayor Al King praised those in attendance for forging dropping temperatures and a chilly, biting wind to ensure their voices were heard.
"You're brave souls to come out in this weather," he told the crowd. "We know you must be really dedicated."
Another neighbor, who did not disclose her name for fear of retaliation for her comments, described the mid-day scene that unfolds outside her bedroom window daily.
"There are people out there in their front lawns dealing their drugs for everyone to see," she said. "Sometimes they're right next to you."
She, like the others who spoke, want to see more police patrolling the neighborhood, they said.
"This neighborhood used to be nice and comfortable, and we weren't afraid," she said. "Why can't we get control of this? We need to do something."
Donnie Barnes agreed with his neighbors, adding robberies on his block are becoming commonplace.
"It's getting worse and worse," he said. "It's foot-traffic, and it's robberies."
Barnes added putting more money in the police department's budget -- and reducing spending on big projects like the Paramount Theater and Community Building -- might help reduce crime in the area.
"The Paramount and the Community Building, those are all wonderful things," he said. "But none of those things are going to keep people from leaving this city. What's going to keep people here is turning the crime back around."
There were other concerns, too.
Steve Frank also lives on Beech Street and said he gets nervous when reckless drivers speed by his house.
"I'll be sitting out on the porch with the baby, and they'll go by way too fast," he said. "It says 25 mph but it seems like Rockingham out there."
Frank suggested that officials consider constructing speed bumps in the area to protect neighborhood children from dangerous drivers.
Tuesday's meeting was the last one council members will host until next spring.
Council member Bob Waller thanked all who attended and said their voices were heard, indeed.
"The only way we can make things better is if you get involved," he said.
City Manager Joe Huffman said the end of this year's schedule will give his staff an opportunity to look through notes from all previous meetings and identify neighborhood leaders.
It is his hope that before the next wave of meetings begins, those individuals will be appointed to the Mayor's Neighborhood Council, he said, a group that will aim to keep lines of communication between city staff and elected officials open at all times.
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