Churches, Stallings town officials, police and Young Republicans pledged Wednesday to help one of Stallings' most troubled neighborhoods.
More than 20 people gathered around a table to talk about Spring Hill residents' concerns – which ranged from drainage issues to deadbeat landlords – and how to take action.
The Rev. James Barnett, founder of Charlotte's Stop the Killing Crusade in the late 1980s, told the group that neighborhoods can change when people work together.
“I'm just excited any time a community is talking about winning a community back, because it is so easy to win a community back,” Barnett said. “We prove that God can take a few and do the work of many.”
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Spring Hill neighborhood is 126 houses off Potter and Oscar Privette roads. The neighborhood has long had a reputation for crime and drugs, and neighbors have said it could use a clean-up.
Ideas from the meeting include:
The group will host a neighborhood barbecue on Aug. 5, National Night Out, as a “going away party for crime and drugs.”
Church groups and other community organizations could help with small repair projects and other needs.
A clean-up day, bringing out Dumpsters for appliances, furniture and other large trash items.
Group members, including Barnett, will walk through the neighborhood to learn about problems there first hand.
The town will work with the neighborhood on drainage and code enforcement issues.
The group will look for ways to make landlords more accountable to keeping their property in shape.
Police suggested a Neighborhood Watch program and increased community policing.
Barnett said he was expecting only five or six people to attend and was pleasantly surprised by the turnout. Those in attendance included Stallings Mayor Lynda Paxton, council members Al Graham, Mark Franza and Renee Hartis, police officers Mike Kane and Mike Eudy and code enforcement officer Ed Deason.
Representatives from Stallings United Methodist Church and Rock Hill A.M.E. Zion Church, the Young Republicans of Union County and several residents of Spring Hill rounded out the group.
Resident Schulyter McGhee said many of the neighborhood's problems stemmed from landlords who don't keep up their property.
About 45 percent of houses in Spring Hill are rentals, Paxton said. One landlord owns 11 houses, while another owns nine.
Residents on Wednesday said tenants weren't the problem.
“We're not down on the renting,” McGhee said. “We're down on the deadbeat landlords.”
Problems mentioned included broken cars left in yards and streetlights being shot out.
Paxton said previous ideas to help Spring Hill have not worked, and she was optimistic this group could make a difference.
“It's kind of like the stars aligned and things came together,” she said of Wednesday's meeting. “I'm very hopeful something can come of this.”