Residents get role in HotSpot plan

July 23, 1997


Staff Writer

State and local officials Wednesday tried to ease the concerns of Jonathan Street-area residents who feel they have been left out of an effort to combat crime in their neighborhood.

Representatives of the Washington County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Brothers United Who Dare to Care told officials they felt they were not adequately included in the effort to apply for funds under the HotSpot Community Initiative.

Meanwhile, Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II suggested changing the boundaries of the so-called hot spot to include part of the West End, which has faced similar problems.


In an interview, Bruchey floated the idea of dropping the southern part of the hot spot - the Washington and Antietam streets area - in order to include part of the West End.

Doing so would include residents who for months have complained of drug dealing, fights and late-night disturbances, Bruchey said.

"They're not going to be left out. There's some flexibility with the parameters of the hot spot," he said.

Michael A. Sarbanes, executive director of the state Office of Crime Control & Prevention, said his office has received no request to alter the boundaries. But he said state officials want to give local authorities as much leeway as possible.

Wednesday's meeting was called to set the framework for deciding how to spend $221,000 in state and federal money on the anti-crime initiative.

"What we are upset about in this community is we weren't made available for all these meetings before this package was sent to Annapolis," said Donald Davis, president of the local NAACP chapter.

Davis said more money should be allocated for neighborhood-based organizations and community cleanup projects.

"If we're talking about $4,000 or $5,000, it's not going to work," he said.

Sarbanes and local authorities said final decisions have not been made.

Hagerstown Police Chief Dale J. Jones and Health Department official Charles R. Messmer, who helped write the grant application, said neighborhood residents will be included when details are hammered out.

"It has to be a community effort...Otherwise, it will fall flat on its face," Jones said.

Messmer urged community activists to sign up for committees that will work to finalize elements of the plan. Among the steps they need to take:

Set job requirements for and hire a coordinator to oversee the HotSpot plan and then hire a person.

Determine how the funds will be spent.

Area residents said the bulk of the money should go to Memorial Recreation Center, which sponsors recreation programs, computer classes, tutoring sessions and other activities.

"We would like to see some of this money coordinated through our center," said Willie Conyers, past president and current board member.

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