Rural Avenue area neighbors start watch

Doug and Deb Pitt are tired of seeing drug paraphernalia in their neighborhood of the 1200 block of Rural Avenue and streets below such as High Street, Cemetery Street and Monroe Place.

The Pitts are the newest residents to agree to pick up the mantle and become coordinators for their newly formed Rose View Neighborhood Watch Group.

“I want to keep our neighborhood good and clean,” Doug Pitt said during the first meeting of the group that has neighbors living along High Street, Cemetery Street, and Rural Avenue and Monroe Place.

The Pitts say they are doing it for their children and grandchildren.

“I’ve seen a lot of drug dealing,” Pitt said as he described bags that contained narcotics strewn about the block.

Sally Wiegand, of Louisa Street, told the group the point is to take back the city, get the dealers out and tell them they aren’t welcome.

But city police Capt. Timothy Miller warned these mostly are people unable to deal drugs on the meaner streets of larger cities.

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana used the opportunity with 50-plus members of the community to say he believed he had the full support of City Council when it comes to wanting to improve public safety and that he will ask the council to revise a bond ordinance to include $125,000 for streetlight repairs and additions. Campana also said he believed he has the support and votes to get the proposed rental registration ordinance passed as early as next month.

Campana encouraged people to attend the council meeting Thursday night to voice their support. Miller also explained the importance of the ordinance that is to be viewed at noon Oct. 1 by the city Public Safety Committee before it is expected to be voted on Oct. 10 by the full council.

Miller said all – 100 percent – of the crime associated with drug problems, including burglaries and home invasions, falls back on rental properties, many of them with negligent landlords and transient tenants who continue to operate with impunity because police and the codes departments don’t have a rental ordinance at hand.

“I want to be part of the solution,” said Miller, whose late father was twice city police chief serving under Democratic and Republican mayors.

“This proposed ordinance regarding landlords registering has no issues regarding the invasion of privacy,” Campana said.