Results worth effort
At just about 11 a.m. Aug. 19, the woman we will call Linda, was startled by a sudden loud crash.
She ran from her kitchen and as she approached her front door two men stood in her doorway. They ran.
“I never thought in my life I’d have to live in a house where I’d have to be afraid of opening a window,” she said.
“Did they watch me? Did they watch the house? It’s scary.”
While Linda’s situation is unique, break-ins in North Peoria, sadly, are not.
But, as a result of crime and a weak economy, neighborhoods all over the city are becoming stronger, city officials say.
There is no magic formula for this phenomenon.
It has simply involved neighbors getting to know one another, finding common goals and working toward a solution. That is very encouraging.
“What we are seeing is that people make an initial call to us looking for services. I coach them, and over time, they grow and become leaders in their neighborhood,” Peoria neighborhood development specialist Steve Fairbanks said. “That’s neat. People are getting empowered.”
Leslie McKnight, community development director for Peoria says the city now has more than 150 neighborhood and neighborhood watch associations. However, there is one potentially sour note.
“We are planting more seeds in the 3rd, 4th and 5th districts. It’s a little tougher to plant the seeds there. There’s not so many issues that trouble them. But, more and more North Peorians are seeing that blight, crime and problems follow people, and people are moving north,” Fairbanks said.
Those North Peoria neighborhood associations that border areas without a neighborhood association are going to have to become even more proactive and light a fire under their neighbors. Crime, like electricity, seeks the path of least resistance. Once a criminal foothold is established it is troublesome to remove. And, more than likely that criminal element will spread into other neighborhoods.
North Peorians have to realize they can no longer simply count on local, state and federal resources to take care of issues in their neighborhoods.
Like criminals, a government entity will take the path of least resistance and go for a quick fix, not necessarily the best fix.
Shaping the tone and tenor of a neighborhood is increasingly going to be the job of the residents. The results are worth the effort.