After reading your article on Aug. 6, “When will community say enough is enough?” I wanted to let you know that North Braddock said, “enough is enough” a long time ago.
At one of the watch meetings, we listened to residents discuss numerous problems. We decided to hold a community meeting in September 2008 to address these problems (crime, drugs, abandoned and neglected properties, etc.) by bringing possible solutions to the meeting. From this meeting, North Braddock Cares, our local community development corporation, began working with the North Braddock fire department, the police department, borough officials, Neighborhood Watch, Transformazium (a local art group), Mon Valley Initiative, and community volunteers to develop a board up and clean up project. With funding from the Enterprise Zone Corporation of Braddock and Mon Valley Initiative, we purchased plywood and other supplies, developed a list of abandoned properties (of which there are approximately 300), and started boarding up the properties and weeding the front of them. The next step is to find the owners and make them responsible for repairing, selling or demolishing the house.
There are many other steps we need to take in preventing abandoned properties from increasing, but this is the all-important first step.
At that September 2008 meeting, we all decided that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! We could not keep waiting for someone else to do something; we needed to ask, “How can we citizens help the borough?”
So how does boarding up properties make things better? First off, it keeps drug addicts and dealers from doing their business in these houses, most of which are next door to residents who care for their properties. Secondly, it makes the neighborhood more appealing and lets those residents who are responsible homeowners or renters know that someone does care and wants to help. Most importantly, it makes the neighborhood safer and less prone to crime and fire hazards.
Although we still face crime and homicides and numerous other obstacles in our community, at least we are working together to overcome them. It’s so much easier to sit behind closed doors and complain that someone should do something about the problems we all face; it’s much harder to actually get involved. But I can say from experience, when you get off your behind and offer to help, it’s a great feeling to have a hand in improving our community and it’s a wonderful way to meet your neighbors. And isn’t that what a community is all about?
Victoria L. Vargo
North Braddock Cares