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Fairfield residents build upon recent progress

Jan. 19, 2013 @ 12:10 AM

The Fairfield West community has had more than its share of challenges over the decades. Violence, drug trafficking, crimes against property, eyesores along its streets.

But a variety of initiatives have helped turn around the neighborhood. The Weed and Seed program fostered better relations with police, which in turn helped reduce crime. A Drug Market Intervention program involving federal and state authorities put offenders on the spot with a chance to avoid prosecution if they steered away from crime. New affordable housing is available thanks to the efforts of Habitat for Humanity.

An important piece in these programs' success has been the involvement of the community's residents. Both the Weed and Seed and Drug Market Intervention programs are built on residents playing key roles.

That citizen involvement also has been demonstrated through increased participation in the Fairfield West Improvement Council, led by Leon White the past four years. The group has worked in many ways to restore community pride and encourage residents to "take ownership" of the neighborhood once again.

One of the council's latest strategies has been its "Third Saturday" initiative. The program targets abandoned lots that are overrun with weeds and trash, and neighbors get together once a month to clean them up. Three parcels have been cleaned up so far, and more will be tackled is spring.

"When we started this program, a lot of neighbors looked at us and said, 'That's the city's job. Why are you doing it for them?' " White told The Herald-Dispatch. "The city can't do everything. This is our responsibility."

That's a laudable attitude that will only help the neighborhood get even stronger. It demonstrates the good that can be done when people realize they can make their part of the world better and then act on it.

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