Mesa's Building Stronger Neighborhoods initiative returns to District 3 - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Mesa's Building Stronger Neighborhoods initiative returns to District 3

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Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012 6:09 pm

A District 3 neighborhood is the latest in Mesa to undergo the city’s Building Stronger Neighborhoods initiative.

The area located within Dobson Road to the Tempe border, and from West Eighth Street to Broadway Road, held a neighborhood meeting with city officials Dec. 4 to introduce residents to the city program which covers a neighborhood in each district every year.

The goal of the program is to identify problems and issues affecting a particular neighborhood, such as crime, traffic and more. But it is also a tool for officials to spot the local leadership and establish and effective means of communication between the city and area residents.

District 3 Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh said the BSN program helps him and other Mesa leaders identify residents’ needs “from their perspective what they think the biggest issues are in their neighborhood, what they like about it, what they don’t like, (and) what the challenges are, rather than just (leadership) assuming what the issues might be.”

Added Kavanaugh: “It’s coming from them, not the top down.”

Prior to the meeting, residents were asked to fill out surveys issued by City of Mesa Neighborhood Outreach offices about their opinions of various services as well as issues and problems they face.

At the meeting, the results were discussed and prioritized. Presentations from and discussions ensued, including with various city departments, including fire, code compliance, solid waste, Kavanaugh and District 3 Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator Cynthia Ezcurra-Garza.

From the surveys and the meeting, the neighborhood and the city were able to identify key issues affecting the area, including traffic woes and public safety and groups of volunteers formed to address those issues with the designated city departments.

“Because speeding seems to an issue for the neighborhood, they would like to see more block watches established. Crime was an issue ... they felt like they didn’t know a lot of their neighbors,” Ezcurra-Garza said.

Enter Mesa police officer Jerry Quarles, who duties include being the Dobson Patrol Division crime prevention officer.

Quarles will work with the neighborhood project groups and leaders to establish the new block-watch initiative and help with the crime and speeding.

Quarles said that the problems of a neighborhood may not always be apparent from service calls and statistics.

“Some of the goals from the police department that we have to go in, find out exactly what the concerns are from the citizens,” Quarles said. “I may find out there is a large number of residential burglaries that I’m not aware of.”

The program will continue with a series of meetings schedule to be held Jan. 8 and Jan. 22, where the working groups will brainstorm and create plans to address the issues.

For more information about Building Stronger Neighborhoods or to participate, reach Ezcurra-Garza at (480) 644-5889 or cynthia.ezcurra-garza@mesaaz.gov.

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