• November 21, 2014

Eliminating drugs next on list for Sunset Drive neighborhood

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Posted: Friday, November 22, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 11:57 am, Wed Jul 16, 2014.

What a difference a day makes — at least to residents on Sunset Drive.

An abandoned burned building and more than 300,000 pounds of debris dumped there are gone thanks to Saturday’s cleanup. But residents in the neighborhoods of Casa Drive and Sunset Lane aren’t satisfied yet.

“I want the drugs gone from here,” said Sandra Kay Williams who lives on Sunset. “And, if people start dumping their stuff here again, I am going to be reporting them (to the police).”

Sunset Lane and Casa Drive are known for drug use and prostitution, according to residents. Chief Tim Molnes said the neighborhoods are a constant drain on city resources and the residents have to do community policing.

“We can make 10 arrests tonight, and they will be back tomorrow,” Molnes said. “There are good people on Sunset Lane and we feel for them. But they are a part of the solution.”

Residents are encouraged to write down tag numbers and call police when they witness illegal activity. Molnes said taking photos when the crimes are occurring is even stronger evidence. Tips can be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers. Citizens also are encouraged to attend the Citizens Police Academy to learn how the police department works so they can better assist in arrests and convictions.

Cove House opened a transitional housing unit on Sunset Drive last month. Director Benjamin Tindall said they want to show love to the neighborhood and restore it.

“(The neighborhood) is known for certain stereotypes and stigmas with drug use and other abuses,” Tindall said. “We want to remove some of those things so it is a safe environment and area that people can be proud of it and take pride in.”

Saturday’s cleanup was a start, but residents want more. They agreed the lack of lighting in the neighborhoods contributes to the unwanted activity. City Manager Andrea Gardner said she will investigate the possibility of adding additional lighting to the neighborhoods, which will discourage the drug activity and illegal dumping.

She also discussed the possibility of installing digital cameras.

Apartment manager Shane White lives on Sunset Drive and would like to see the churches join the city in taking back the neighborhood.

“I used to be that gang member and drug dealer. Churches together with the city can accomplish this,” White said. “I live there and I see (illegal activity). We need to give people a hand up, not a hand out.”

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