Recap: January meeting tackled crime concerns
With recent concerns over crime in Cooper Young, a number of residents expressed interest in finding out about the Phelps Security services in Central Gardens and how we might make use of a similar system. Both Adam Phelps and Tracy Wiswall, Safety Chair for the Central Gardens Association, came out to tell us about the service and answer questions.
Phelps began with a short description of the Central Gardens plan. According to Phelps’ statistics, schedule 1 crimes decreased dramatically after the neighborhood began this service in 2007. The 24-hour-a-day security guard is able to keep tabs on who lives in or frequently visits the neighborhood. They are also able to go onto participants’ property and check out unusual activity. Although the guard does patrol within the boundaries of the neighborhood, specific services including vacation checks and alarm response are only available to those who have paid into the service. Guards are also only able to enter the property of those who have paid. Phelps described this primarily as a liability issue as entering the property of a person who is not a part of the service would leave them liable to trespassing charges. In order for the service to cost around $50 per month — the average cost for residents in Central Gardens —there would need to be 400 homes signed up. The cost to each individual user would fluctuate based on services (adding an additional patrol or decreasing to only certain times of the day) as well as the number of total participants. Many of the specifics of a plan would depend upon the needs of a given community, so Phelps was unable to give concrete answers to many questions about the ultimate cost of the service.
Both Phelps and Wiswall fielded questions from those who attended the meeting; Wiswall was particularly helpful in understanding how the service has worked in Central Gardens. He mentioned that this service is only truly useful if there is already an alarm system on the home. Central Gardens has been particularly impressed with Phelps response to alarms and he believes that, without this feature, the rest of the service would be considerably less beneficial. Outside of specific services, many people questioned the process of getting and keeping the suggested 400 participants. Both Wiswall and Phelps agreed that this could be a challenging task. Wiswall suggested having a specific way of approaching all incoming homeowners to keep up the number of over time while Phelps mentioned that they would be happy to split the costs and help with an initial recruiting drive. Both believe that the commitment of a neighborhood association is key to successfully maintaining participants. They also mentioned that, although renters can absolutely sign on to the service, it is primarily aimed at homeowners; this is due to the expectation that homeowners stay in a neighborhood for a longer period of time.
The evening wrapped up with information on the next steps to take. Phelps encouraged anyone who was interested in the service to get together and start lobbying their neighbors to sign on. He also suggested having the CYCA run a survey about potential usage and price points to gauge interest throughout the larger community. This remains an option pending sufficient support from interested residents. — Kristen Schebler