Only a neighborhood can save a neighborhood.
Sandusky, with its aging housing stock, economic challenges and high percentage of rental property, struggles to keep its neighborhoods desirable places to live. Lovely homes are sometimes surrounded by rundown ones; upstanding citizens are sometimes next door to police blotter frequent flyers; and landscaped yards often share their blocks with trash and junk vehicles. It's enough to get a responsible resident down -- but not out.
The city is promoting the idea of a focused initiative to improve neighborhoods and a sense of community. Residents of each of five neighborhood areas are encouraged to participate in neighborhood advisory groups. These groups will zero in on the problems unique to their area and work with the city to solve them. Focuses include development of neighborhood plans, advising the city on a land banking program, providing information on code compliance issues and developing improved community policing.
But without community support, it's little more than wishful thinking.
In a perfect city, each resident would accept responsibility for making his space a better place to live. In a real city, sometimes people have to be nudged to make their homes community assets. Neighborhood block watches can be the gentle nudge needed.
The city housing department and the local police can be expected to do their parts in cleaning up of all sorts of trash. But their scope is large, their manpower limited and their focus sometimes narrow. Emphasis on downtown areas are vital, but no neighborhood should be ignored in its efforts to clean up. Rather than expecting the city to fix it all, use the resources available through the city to implement your own improvement programs. Laws and city ordinances are in place to support your efforts. It doesn't matter how much the city helps out, if the neighborhood doesn't want to save itself, nothing can.
Don't let a few uncaring residents or property owners destroy the beauty or security you deserve at home. Take back your neighborhood.
Start at your own doorstep, but don't stop there. If you're looking to make things better, you can bet there are others in the area who feel the same way. Find each other, band together and be the gentle nudge.
Just remember, block watch is not synonymous with lifestyle gestapo. Each resident has varying needs, incomes, family, lifestyles and ideas of perfection. Recognize these variations and respect them.
When neighbors work toward a common goal, everyone wins.