A new community block watch program for residents who live on Ferndale Place and Mayfield Place in southwest Bexley is stepping up to fight crime.
The group will hold its first meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15, at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.
Ferndale Place resident Ruth Mickens said she worked with Bexley police to start the block watch in order to mobilize her neighbors to reduce crime and enhance safety in the area.
"You have to have peace where you live," she said.
Mickens has attended numerous Bexley City Council meetings in recent months and appealed to city officials to address crime in the area, with incidents ranging from thefts to domestic violence.
The city is working to address Mickens' concerns, Mayor Ben Kessler said.
"We patrol the area frequently, and have been encouraging residents to form a block watch in the area," he said.
"Two years ago, we began pursuing public-nuisance action against landlords whose properties were chronic code violators and/or had persistent criminal activity. This has resulted in some progress, but it's a slow process and I'm eager to see more results in the area," he said.
Patrolling the area and addressing crime are complicated by the fact that Ferndale and Mayfield are cut off from the rest of Bexley, Kessler said.
"These are the only two streets in Bexley that you can't access from Bexley," he said.
"Being severed from the neighborhood grid has a lot of implications in the way that a neighborhood can develop, or not develop.
"It means that patrolling the streets is more difficult, that walkability is complicated, especially as it relates to kids walking to and from school, and that the normal social interactions that occur as a result of our classic neighborhood grid are much less likely to occur," Kessler said.
In addition to forming the new block watch, Mickens has asked city officials to install brighter street lights on Ferndale and Mayfield to deter crime. Kessler said the city is evaluating how to best install new lights.
"I recently went over and walked the streets at night to get a feel for the street lighting conditions and agree that more lighting would be desirable," Kessler said. "I'm working with our Service Department to see what's necessary for the installation.
"My preference would be to get this installed in 2014, but I still need to learn more about what's necessary in terms of budget and electrical prep work in order to install a new lighting loop," he said.
Kessler said both short-term and long-term solutions are needed to address crime and promote development -- not only on Ferndale Place and Mayfield Place, but in the entire East Livingston Avenue corridor.
"I intend to focus increasing energy to this challenge," he said, "and hope that we will be seeing very tangible and focused results in the coming years."