Bringing back the neighborhood

SANDUSKY Clarence Crabb, 73, built his Buchanan Street home with his bare hands in 1963. Down the street, Naomi Micken
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Clarence Crabb, 73, built his Buchanan Street home with his bare hands in 1963.

Down the street, Naomi Mickens, 83, will soon return to her home after a five-year absence.

But with growing neighborhood problems such as trash, crime and drugs, Crabb and Mickens' daughter, Jackie Smith, are wondering where the old neighborhood went.

They feel like they have lost the sense of community the old block used to have.

Crabb and Smith aren't alone with their concerns.

City commissioners discuss the blight and downward spiral of Sandusky's neighborhoods at nearly every commission meeting.

The city is starting to develop a long-term focused initiative to improve neighborhoods and the sense of community.

But for some residents, progress is hard to see beyond the junk cars and mounds of trash.

"I've been upset for a long time," Crabb said. "I can't get anyone to do anything about it."

Crabb said he has numerous issues with properties in the neighborhood, but with one in particular where he claims trash sits in a dumpster piled to the roof line and about a half dozen cars remain parked.

"I get told we will look into it," he said about responses to his complaints about the property's status.

Crabb has even had a commissioner and former City Manager Mike Will look at the situation to no avail, he said.

He would like to see strict enforcement of city codes on junk cars, trash and lawn care.

For Jackie Smith, the concern is for her mother's safety.

Smith is so concerned about what happens in the area of her mother's home that she has installed video cameras.

"My mom turned the property from next to nothing to making it a very beautiful place to live," Smith said, explaining how her mother worked as a cleaning lady for decades, putting every bit of her paycheck she could into caring for her home.

Just the next street over, there are windows boarded up, she said.

"Things like that are welcome signs for all sorts of problems," Smith said.

Smith is concerned about her mother coming home after a lengthy stint in a nursing home to a neighborhood in which she might not feel safe.

Concerns like Crabb's and Smith's are common in the city and, in response, the city is working to get programs like block watches, resident councils and land revitalization programs off the ground.

Mary Bird, community development program administrator, is searching for residents interested in participating on Neighborhood Advisory Groups.

"Hopefully, by working together, we can solve some of the problems out there," she said. "We can strategize on how we can take back our neighborhoods, whether that means starting a block watch or it's a networking or other ideas."

Bird said city officials know there's a need for revitalization and community redevelopment.

"We're going forward to develop these strategies for people to feel empowered so that they have a good avenue to talk with the city and see if we can find solutions together," she said.

The Neighborhood Advisory Groups will be involved in many upcoming projects including the development of neighborhood plans, advising the city on a land banking program, providing information on neighborhood code compliance issues and developing strategies for improved community policing and neighborhood revitalization, she said.


The city is looking for nine volunteers from each of five different neighborhood areas in Sandusky.

Interested residents may call Mary Bird in the City Department of Community Development, Division of Housing at 419-627-5878.