Community members and city officials are joining together in an effort to "weed" out crime and "seed" progressive programs throughout the city.
The 32-member steering committee is hoping to receive funding to do this through the U.S. Department of Justice's "Weed & Seed" program. If awarded, Sandusky would receive a $1 million grant during a five-year span, according to Mary Bird, program administrator for the city office of economic development.
Committee members, compromised of both city residents and officials, sent out a letter of intent in May and are now writing up a grant proposal and finalizing material for the city's application, Bird said.
The program is two-prong: police force personnel "weeding" out crime and citizens being proactive in "seeding" programs to keep crime out of the area.
"There's been a slow decline in this area and the crime statistics are up," Bird said. "There's been a lot of deterioration and we're trying to turn this whole thing around."
The final proposal is due in September. After that, committee members anticipate learning if they receive the grant by January 2008. But even if the grant is not issued to Sandusky, organizers said their planning can be utilized.
"We're trying to develop strategies to use whether we're successful in getting the grant or not," Bird said.
Programs for drug-addicts rank high on a list for ways to "weed" out crime, according to police Chief Kim Nuesse.
"There is a strong link or connection between drug addiction and crime," she said.
Abused and neglected children often come from homes where parents are drug users, she said.
"You have to have very aggressive and very active programs," Nuesse said. "Anything that we do should be something we can sustain with staffing we have now."
Nuesse also aims to continue policing quality of life concerns such as sound amplification device issues, loud music at residences and enforcing curfew law for juveniles.
"That's made a huge difference," Nuesse said. "We're going to continue to do that."
In addition, efforts to maintain and improve community block watches would be key in the "Weed and Seed" initiative, according to Nuesse.
"We're looking at real low-cost, but practical ways to implement some good partnerships in the community," she said.
On the flip-side, there will be several community and citizen-based initiatives as well.
"One of the goals is to get a lot of the community involved," Bird said. "When people don't feel safe, they're not going to feel comfortable living here."