Crime is issue for residents

John Burton sees a lot of children playing out on the streets in his East Boundary neighborhood, but he worries that's not enough to keep them occupied.

 

"I think we need some more activities for kids out here," he said. "There used to be a summer reading program at Underwood Homes and kids used to come there all day. But the money got cut."

He's not the only one who thinks East Boundary kids might need more to do.

A survey taken at a June block party shows residents think tutoring and mentoring for children is a program that would help the neighborhood. A total of 166 of 212 respondents picked it as a community need, followed by help learning how to get and maintain a job (155) and help learning ways to be a better parent/role model (135).

"This confirmed our suspicions," said Rick Keuroglian, one of the block party organizers.

Keuroglian directs Hope for Augusta, a faith-based youth mentoring program, and is president of the nearby Olde Town Neighborhood Association. One way he'd like to use the survey results is by partnering with nonprofits whose services match the residents' stated needs.

The survey asked East Boundary residents what services performed by nonprofits would be beneficial. But ask a resident more generally what the community needs, and the conversation switches very quickly to the area's crime problem.

Deborah Moss said her top worry is all the outside traffic that drives through her complex, River Glenn Apartments, bringing drugs and gunfire into the area. Her neighbor, Gabrielle Harris, agreed.

"It gets everyone scared. You just jump out of the bed and lay on the floor when you hear the gunfire," she said. "The police come, but they take forever."

Harris said a lot of young women living in the apartment complex would like to do better for their kids. They need help getting jobs and affordable child care, though.

East Boundary resident Towana Lewis said she sent her 15-year-old son to live with a sister in Evans because of the crime. She would like to see things change, but is skeptical that food banks, gang prevention groups and mentoring organizations will have an effect.

"A lot of people here don't want help," she said. "They've got to want it. If they want to get it, then it might change."

Burton said the block party survey contained many things East Boundary could use. But like his neighbors, he felt crime was the biggest problem.

"We probably need better security here, like some kind of neighborhood watch," he said.

Survey says

East Boundary residents were asked at a June block party what services they think would help the neighborhood. A total of 212 people responded, choosing the following:

- More tutoring and mentoring programs for children (166 respondents)

- Learn ways to get and maintain a job (155)

- Learn ways to be a better parent/role model (135)

- Adult literacy and education (127)

- Learn ways to help succeed in life (122)

- Learn ways to be a better person/neighbor (107)

Source: Day in the Community block party directors