August 9, 2012


South End resident calls for action to fight neighborhood problems


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Fifth Ward resident Amanda Funk is concerned about the spike in crime in her ward and is calling a ward meeting for Aug. 16 at the Tompkins Cortland Community College Extension Center on south Main Street.

Staff Reporter

Amanda Funk, a resident of the 5th Ward, doesn’t like what she sees in her neighborhood, and she’s determined to do all she can to help police in an effort to fight crime.
Funk, 28, has lived in the 5th Ward for three years, and she is concerned about what she says is a rising level of drug activity and violence in her neighborhood. A mother of two young children, Funk says she shouldn’t fear allowing her children to play in the yard, but because of what she sees, she won’t allow it.
Because of all this, Funk has joined forces with Mayor Brian Tobin, 5th Ward Alderman Dan Quail, county Legislator Dick Bushnell and the police department in hopes of bringing out residents’ concerns at a public forum to be held at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 16, at the Tompkins Cortland Community College Extension Center on Main Street.
“I’m hoping to get actionable ideas from residents so we can work with officials to address the issues we’re facing,” Funk said from her Pine Street home. “I’m hoping a lot of people attend because the more ideas, the better.”
Funk suggested a neighborhood watch of sorts, much like the Hill Association, which comprises residents near SUNY Cortland. Tobin explained that members of the Hill Association have an email distribution list so everyone can stay informed of what’s happening in the neighborhood.
“The more people who pay attention, who act as the eyes and ears, can help the police know what’s going on,” Tobin said this morning.
This isn’t Funk’s first foray into pushing forward public awareness in her ward. She is co-founder of the Cortland County Stop the Hurt, which she says promotes peace through education.
In a letter published in Tuesday’s edition of the Cortland Standard, Funk explains just what she is seeking to weed out.
“The 5th Ward has a bad reputation in our city,” she wrote. “We are mainly known for south Main and Union streets and the related crime issues in that area. Our ward is considered to be the wrong side of town, even though we have many upstanding and caring residents.”
She went on to explain that recent events — she didn’t give any specific examples — have actually earned the negative distinction.
With the forum, Funk hopes that residents will join and explain to Tobin, Quail, Bushnell and a police department representative what their issues are. From there, Tobin said the officials will begin coming up with solutions to take the streets back, as Funk put it.
Funk said a neighbor, who she declined to identify, has voiced her concern that when her husband isn’t home at night, she’s scared to sleep in her house alone, even with the doors locked.
“This isn’t the Cortland I know,” Funk said. “Hopefully this meeting will open the door for the community to stop being afraid to voice concern.”
Funk said she’s had items such as an American flag stolen off her front porch by people she thinks are in the neighborhood to buy drugs.
“I’d like to make it known that I’m not on a crusade against drugs, but rather I’m against the negative impact they bring into a close-knit community like Cortland,” Funk added. “No one should have to be afraid to walk their dog after dark. Cortland is a great place, and we need to keep it that way.”


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