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Groups encourage Jonathan St. residents to attend meeting

July 02, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Fliers will be distributed this weekend encouraging North Jonathan Street-area residents to attend a July 7 meeting aimed at helping them take control of their neighborhood, officials said.

Hagerstown's Neighborhoods First and the HotSpot program are joining forces to get residents to the 6:30 p.m. meeting at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center on North Avenue.

The city's neighborhood program held five meetings in June throughout the city to inform people about how to form neighborhood associations, but no one from the North Jonathan Street community attended, said Larry Bayer, Neighborhoods First chairman.

"It was just this complete lack of involvement from the northwest central area that we thought we ought to do something," Bayer said.

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With the help of the HotSpot program, at least 500 fliers will be distributed to every door in the neighborhood this weekend, said Carolyn Brooks, HotSpot coordinator.

The HotSpot program is a statewide anti-crime program. Hagerstown's designated hot spot is a rectangular section of the city from Prospect Avenue to Memorial Boulevard and bounded on the east and west by Prospect and Mulberry streets.

That area, which accounts for about one-third of Washington County's violent crime, includes the North Jonathan Street neighborhood.

Bayer said he thinks neighborhood residents didn't hear about the meetings or didn't understand what they were about.

"This way we get to enough people to explain what it's really about," he said.

"This is an opportunity for residents, not only of that community, but every end of the city, to take control of their neighborhoods back, to have a voice in what happens in the neighborhoods, and foremost and above all ... to live in a better neighborhood without moving," Bayer said.

Brooks said the meeting will empower residents by giving them a chance to voice their opinions and ask questions.

As they did at other neighborhood meetings throughout the city, Neighborhoods First committee members will talk about forming a neighborhood association.

So far, more than 90 percent of the 82 people who attended Neighborhood First's June meetings said they want to organize a neighborhood association, Bayer said.

Letters will be sent out next week to residents who expressed interest in the effort to let them know where and when the organizational meetings will be held, Bayer said.

Residents from almost every other area of the city attended the June meetings, he said. Residents who feel their neighborhood was missed can call Bayer at 301-739-8577, extension 133, to organize a neighborhood meeting.

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