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HomeNewsLocal newsTrash, Bars and Vagrants Biggest Problems in Savan, Residents Say

Trash, Bars and Vagrants Biggest Problems in Savan, Residents Say

During a community meeting focused on tackling crime in Savan, residents instead said that the key to turning around the historic St. Thomas neighborhood was eliminating the large amounts trash, the establishment of new bars and of growing numbers of vagrants in the area.

Monday night’s meeting at Christ Church Methodist was the first in a series of meetings that organizers from Community Action NOW and the Police Association (CAPA) said will help restore Savan and address some of the longstanding issues residents have been facing. CAPA members were out generating a list of concerns Monday and said the next meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. on July 20, will look at solutions.

CAPA itself is a group that acting director Bruce Flamon said is actively working with the Police Department to bring to the forefront concerns from all St. Thomas neighborhoods, which he said will be brought back to Police Commissioner Delroy Richards and addressed “as soon as possible.”

The goal was to establish a neighborhood watch program for the area, Flamon said, but only one in the large group of residents attending the meeting reported hearing any gunshots in Savan during the past month. Only one other talked about waiting three hours for police to respond to daytime burglary in her house, while two other mentions of muggings were limited to the area outside the church, and residents said they had died down after people stopped coming out for early evening services.

When asked if they felt scared to “walk the streets at night,” only two residents raised their hands.

Much of the discussion centered on the dynamic between the three ethnic groups in the area and the difficulties they have interacting. Having police take three hours to respond to a burglary isn’t a crime issue, but the result of residents not knowing the proper street names, someone said. And instead of waiting for the government to act – though some said having more police in the area or setting up a neighborhood precinct would be helpful – most agreed that the way to improve Savan is to get community members working together, getting to know one other and bringing back the “old values” the neighborhood was built on.

Outside of that, one neighborhood family said Monday that they were concerned about the economic decline brought about by the ongoing restoration of Main Street, which they said is responsible for the closure of 15 businesses in the area.

Iver Stridiron and his wife Priscilla said they were forced to close their business, First Choice Gifts and Apparel, last year and, despite promises from the government to rehab the Rothschild Francis Podium, which abuts the building, nothing has been done.

“The plans for the reconstruction of Market Square finally came to fruition last year, but we really don’t see any major improvement in the area because of it,” Priscilla Stridiron said. Parking spaces in front of the area were moved and the Sanderilla Thomas Bungalow was fenced in, but that has only contributed to the problems, the Stridirons said.

Community Action NOW co-chairman Kevin Gilbertson said he has continued to document such concerns for several years and has gone “street by street, property by property” over the past two months taking pictures that can be passed on to officials or used in his group’s restoration efforts.

Community Action NOW has raised $50,000 for a massive cleanup and restoration effort, Gilbertson said, and will look at educating residents about the historical significance of the neighborhood and bring them together for a cleanup phase from July 13 to 17, meeting at the Savan basketball court at 7 a.m. each day.

A “restoration phase” will also run from July 20 to 24, also meeting place at the Savan basketball court at 7 a.m., followed by a resource fair and rededication ceremony on July 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Savan basketball court.

The project is being launched in partnership with the V.I. Economic Development Authority, Environmental Association of St. Thomas-St. John, Sankofa Saturdays and the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, among others.

For more information on the Community Action NOW cleanup, visit www.communityactionnow.org, email info@communityactionnow.org, or call (770) 852-0226.

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