Fears ease in Jonathan Street neighborhood

August 13, 1997


Staff Writer

Community leaders in Hagerstown's Jonathan Street neighborhood said Tuesday their worries have eased following a second meeting with officials devising the HotSpot Community Initiative.

Neighborhood activists have expressed a variety of concerns about the plan, from a lack of money to a lack of input.

But Tracey Brown, a member of Brothers United Who Dare to Care and the NAACP, said she felt good about the meeting and that her fears were beginning to ease.


The HotSpot Initiative was created by the state to help communities by taking a comprehensive approach to fighting crime. The effort focuses on prevention activities, traditional law enforcement and community involvement.

The area - which covers about 16 blocks and stretches from Bethel Street to Antietam Street and North Walnut to North Potomac streets - was chosen by using crime statistics that show it is responsible for 23 percent of violent crime in Washington County.

Despite the progress, concerns remain.

Brown said she was concerned that the money, totaling about $233,000, would not be put into the Jonathan Street area and neighborhood facilities like the Memorial Recreation Center on West North Avenue. But Charles R. Messmer, who works for the Washington County Health Department and helped coordinate the initiative, told Brown that money decisions have not been made yet.

Messmer said committees that community leaders were signing up for would discuss the plans for each category of the initiative and make recommendations to the Maryland Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention as to where the money should go. The committees are to meet within the next two weeks and report back to Messmer. He will then talk with the governor's office and get the money ball rolling.

Donald Davis, president of the local NAACP chapter, was concerned about the $5,000 designated for supporting citizens on patrol, outdoor activities to reclaim public spaces and community cleanups.

Hagerstown Police Chief Dale J. Jones tried to address complaints about drug activity in the area. He said two more officers will be assigned, once trained, due to the grant money, and that two officers are on duty just in that area in addition to regular patrol.

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