Is Now the Time?

By Mary Jo Smith

We as neighbors chose this neighborhood because of its atmosphere— the architecture, the schools, the churches, the location, the safety, the tranquility and other appealing factors. Many of the neighbors who have joined us recently share that sentiment often as they and their young children join us.

Some of the recent developments have changed our behavior, and thus the question: Is now the time to retool some of our responses? What about our definition of “neighborhood”? Let’s start with the challenges and changes. The housing crash led to lots of foreclosures, both mortgage and tax delinquencies. Those foreclosures brought a vacancy rate unlike anything seen since [maybe] the Great Depression. Prices have crashed and risen again. The continuing tax auctions yield some peculiar results and on-site arguments about property ownership. Speculators have added their marks of blight. Reckless driving seems to have increased and we have witnessed bizarre accidents and the horrible, heartbreaking death of a young child. As Halloween Saturday and this issue’s deadline coincided, we saw people start putting yard waste and bulk trash items curbside—two weeks in advance of the pickup, and the day after the previous scheduled collection. Unrestrained dogs continue to roam. New styles of electronic communication have become available and for many of us, social media are indispensable. Our crime rates, low for a big city, amazingly low for Detroit, continue to decline….and no, we won’t be relaxing our vigilance until crime disappears, since any crime is one too many. Nonetheless, some are panicking about the “rampant dangers.”

So here we are with many of the big issues disappearing, a new vibrancy in the neighborhood, crime continuing to fall, and options available to address some of the sticking points. Some answers, easy to propose, seem to fall on deaf ears. What would get us to do better? We know safety improves with front porch lights on at night…we could do better lighting the night. We know Courvilles are emptied each Thursday, and recycling picked up alternate Thursdays—the same week as the Friday bulk and yard waste in season—how can we keep our days straight?

The neighborhood has a very high literacy rate, but we seem unable to read and comprehend “STOP” in white letters on red signs, and certainly can’t match 25 on the street sign to 25 on our speedometers—how do we get those matches? Cars on the street are the ones stolen or vandalized- –but even people with driveways and garages consistently park on the street. If we suffer an incident, we express our concern and anguish, but often omit making any report to the police or to our patrols which greatly reduces options for resolution or prevention of further incidents. Early in the fall there were some situations in the neighborhood where neighbors engaged in self-help with guns, brandishing or using them, when other options might well have gotten them better, safer responses, certainly with less jeopardy, both legal and physical, than their choice[s] to use guns—what say we look seriously at the new whistle safety program rolled out elsewhere in this issue as a new benefit of UDCA membership? “Gentrification” of a sort has arrived in our area—are we ready for some of those market alterations?

Radio Patrol works as eyes and ears for the police department. Additionally we volunteer to collect and collate suggestions. We volunteer to host any desired discussion. We know we will all be better served with porch lights on at night, reporting [to police and/or patrols] any incidents, keeping active block clubs where you know names and contact information for your block, supporting the work of Traffic Calming and Residential Standards committees of the community association, but what else? Do we need more than newsletter, emails, phone numbers for our neighborhood organizations? If so, what? Crime prevention or problem solving seminars? Those receptions to meet new neighbors seem well received…What is your conclusion on any fine tuning we need to get/keep the neighborhood we want?

You may reach Radio Patrol at 313-447-0003 before 8:00PM or at