A central Mesa neighborhood coping with crime — but with two active residential groups on its side — has been named the city’s second "opportunity zone."
The neighborhood services department will help 7,300 residents in the Reed Park area, mostly on the north side of Broadway Road just west of Gilbert Road, upgrade their surroundings over the course of a year. They will organize alley cleanups, beef up crimewatch programs and target projects for homes in need.
Hank Klassen, a 40-year neighborhood resident, said any support, moral and financial, will be appreciated.
"Some of them, I think, are going to need a hand here on this," he said. "Like myself — I need a new roof."
Klassen founded the Second Avenue Group, one of two registered neighborhoods within the new opportunity zone, where about half of the area’s residents are renters. Much of the city’s work will focus on Crime-Free Multihousing and other apartmentcentered programs.
The opportunity zone program is designed to help neighborhoods on the verge of going into decline. Reed Park was selected from among seven neighborhoods. Of the areas considered, Reed Park generates by far the most calls for police service, but also has the highest average housing values at about $95,000.
Klassen said his neighborhood is seeing the pluses and minuses that come with a diverse population. Some block watches have faltered because many of the newer residents don’t speak English, but he said most are good neighbors.
"Over the last few years we’ve had an influx of Spanish, and a lot of them are really upgrading their property and are doing some good work on them, putting up block fences instead of rickety fences," he said.
The City Council approved the designation at a Thursday study session, though two members objected to spending staff members’ time and $50,000 toward a specific neighborhood.
"It’s government’s job to protect our freedoms, not our happiness," said Councilman Tom Rawles, who, with Janie Thom, voted against it.
But Mayor Keno Hawker said the expenditure would be worth it to upgrade an area and set an example for the rest of the city.