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October 12, 2012

 

7th Ward to hold meeting on crime

Residents hope to organize neighborhood watch group to help clean up area

By NEIL BENJAMIN JR.
Staff Reporter
nbenjamin@cortlandstandardnews.net

The 7th Ward is holding a meeting Monday to discuss forming a neighborhood watch, according to Alderman Linda Ferguson.
Police Chief F. Michael Catalano will be the guest speaker at the meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. in Room 203 of the Beard Building at 9 Main St. in Cortland.
Ferguson (D-7th Ward) said she has had several inquiries from ward residents about the possibility of forming a watch group, spurred by recent drug-related activity in the city.
She added that two recent gang assaults in other wards were also disturbing to residents.
In the last few months, two small methamphetamine labs were discovered in Cortland, prompting some 7th Ward residents to begin noticing what they deem “suspicious activity” in the area around their homes.
“Instead of allowing this type of activity and behavior into our ward, we want to be proactive about it and let everyone know to keep their eyes out for anything suspicious,” Ferguson said.
Ed King, a 7th Ward homeowner and resident, is outspoken about his desire to clean up the ward. While Ferguson says she wants to take preventive measures to keep it clean, King said he has seen first-hand that the ward has a drug issue.
King said in the last year he has seen, in two separate instances, hypodermic needles lying on the ground. Both times were on Central Avenue and one was Tuesday morning, near the Cortland County Office Building. In both instances, he alerted police, who came and disposed of the needles.
He is unsure if the needles were for medical use or illicit drug use. Either way, he says, it is not an item that should be lying on the ground.
“The meeting is important in many ways,” King said. “There are a lot of people who complain about a variety of things, but do nothing about them. This is an easy way for residents to have their concerns heard, while also allowing them to become part of the solution, part of which is a neighborhood watch.”
King said he printed off and posted nearly 30 fliers around the 7th Ward to promote the meeting.
King also said he is not volunteering to become the leader of the watch if it gets started, but said he would consider it if asked.
He also said there has been a high level of traffic at a few houses in the ward, which he would not identify. While he said the traffic at those houses could be for various reasons, he cited a major marijuana and gun bust in June 2010 on Clinton Avenue, where police seized gallon-size bags of marijuana, a 12-gauge shotgun, a rifle and assorted ammunition.
“There’s an old saying,” King said. “If it looks rotten and smells rotten, it probably is rotten.”
Ferguson said she is going to poll people at the meeting as to who they want to lead the watch. From there, a vote will be taken to determine who gets the responsibilities.
Ferguson said the ward tried to form a neighborhood watch committee two years ago, but that effort failed because there was not enough interest to ensure the watch would sustain. She said she hopes that if the process works this time, the neighborhoods in the ward will be safer places for every resident.
“I don’t want people going out and trying to police the neighborhoods themselves,” Ferguson said. “If we all work together in keeping the police informed of anything suspicious or out of place, then we are doing our part in helping the neighborhoods stay safe as can be.”

 

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