One of Killeen’s most troubled neighborhoods received a facelift Saturday morning from more than 300 volunteers as part of the Killeen Police Department’s community clean-up event on Cantabrian Drive.
As the sweltering mid-August heat began to pick up, volunteers fanned out through the Loma Vista Estates neighborhood encircled by Cantabrian to pick up trash and interact with local residents.
Dannica Lewis, who brought her two daughters Loren, 8, and Melinda, 14, as part of a church group outing, said she spent years in a fourplex similar to the ones that dot the neighborhood.
“You know, everything around here is concrete, so there’s not much of a view when you get up in the morning,” Lewis said. “We just want (the residents) to know we are thinking about them and want them to take some pride in their street — even if they’re not here for long.”
Resident Lucinda Marquez, 78, who lives in a bottom-right unit on Cantabrian, said she wasn’t aware of the event happening until a group of around 15 wandered by with trash bags in hand.
“It’s so nice of them to do this,” she said. “Every day I see people drive by and throw trash out their windows.”
Killeen police spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez said a little more than 300 volunteers took part in the event with 18 adults signing up through the Killeen Municipal Court as part of community service requirements. Twenty-five teens also participated for teen court community service hours.
According to the department, the objective for the event was two-fold: to clear areas for criminals to hide and to improve neighborhood and police relations.
“This cleanup event is an example of community policing between the neighborhood and Police Department,” police Chief Charles “Chuck” Kimble said in a news release. “By developing partnerships and working together to combat crime we will make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.”
Loma Vista Estates, with its four points of entry on Elms Road and South Fort Hood Street and pin-wheel design, has long held a reputation as a hotbed of crime in west central Killeen.
In November 2017, residents told the Herald that the neighborhood was rife with thefts and a recent history of odd, high-profile cases. In one case, police initially suspected the death of 24-year-old Fort Hood soldier Spc. Kendrick Vernell Sneed in January 2014 on Cantabrian was due to Ebola after a deployment in Liberia. The cause of Sneed’s death was later determined to be an overdose.
Lewis said she was aware of Cantabrian’s reputation but found the residents to be kind and caring.
“They all know we’re doing something good, so why would they have an issue?” she said.