Along with one or two complaints about marijuana dealing in the area, most of the concerns raised during Monday night’s Citizens and Police Association meeting at All Saints Cathedral Church were about trash, abandoned buildings and a lack of parking on Garden Street.
The trash complaint has been raised at other CAPA meetings held across the islands over the past eight months. In most areas, residents said the problem was caused by a lack of local trash bins and, in the case of Garden Street, residents said the one bin designated for All Saints has become a community dumping ground with the amount of trash increasing daily since another bin “around the corner” was taken away.
“People are going to get sick in this place. We need to dispose of the garbage as fast as we can,” according to one resident, who said that the once regular weekly trash pickup in the area has recently become unreliable, leaving the neighbors to throw their trash along the roads and in the gutters. Residents asked for more enforcement in the neighborhood to ensure that trash doesn’t continue to be thrown where the dumpster used to be, like it is on the North Side and Smith Bay where bins have also been removed.
The large number of abandoned buildings and cars were also a concern for residents who said that several of the empty houses are made of pitch pine, which can catch fire easily.
“A few years ago, we had a fire that almost destroyed several buildings,” said Garden Street homeowner Rosalie Bedford. “These buildings are made of pitch pine wood and if another catches fire, it could burn the whole of Garden Street.”
Bedford and other residents said there are also several abandoned cars that are taking up room on the already crowded street.
“There occurs a regular parking up of cars that are not working and, along with leaking oil in the streets, they block up entrances and take up parking spaces,” Bedford said. “Some have been parked in front of my house and they block the way out. I’ve even had to climb the back wall to get out of my house.”
The bigger issue of parking on Garden Street was also raised, with residents saying that cars are parked anywhere around the neighborhood at any time and they often keep people from being able to move in and out of the area easily. While there are no parking signs in several spots, there are still “three or four” cars parked around them at any given time, according to community elder Jeff Watson.
A few residents also said they are bothered by the smell of marijuana smoke coming from the end of Garden Street in the evenings. In some cases, people stopping to buy drugs further clog up the way out, adding to the congestion, residents said.
Other concerns included the tangling up of trees in the telephone poles and the confusion caused by cars moving through narrow two-way streets that are blocked on one side by parked cars.
CAPA President Bruce Flamon said another meeting will be held at the cathedral on Monday night to discuss solutions.
Flamon said that CAPA has held seven community meetings in neighborhoods across the island over the past eight months. From those meetings, the organization is working with Police Commissioner Delroy Richards on getting a police van or substation in Market Square, has helped to reduce noise complaints in Red Hook and has been boosting police involvement by recognizing officers for their service within the community. An app that would allow residents to quickly report crime, including break in’s or stolen cars, is also in the works, Flamon said.
“We’ve been holding our meetings in the churches within these neighborhoods and the other push we are making is that after we’ve held our two CAPA meetings, we help the churches with their own community outreach programs,” Flamon said. “It has been a great effort, with everyone working together.”