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The Daily Tar Heel

Northside Residents Discuss Neighborhood Concerns

The discussion, held at the Senior Center on Caldwell Street, was sponsored by the Sykes Street Neighborhood Visioning Project and focused on solutions for improving the Northside neighborhood.

The Sykes Street Neighborhood Visioning Project is made up of non-profit organizations, police, public housing officials and graduate students from UNC's City and Regional Planning Department.

At the meeting, residents addressed issues like loitering and the police department's role in the neighborhood.

John Bullock, a graduate student in city and regional planning, described the event as "a chance for residents to speak directly to officials" and said the group's goal was to create a plan to address the issues.

Mildred Council, of 408 W. Rosemary St., outlined drug problems and their consequences as the most pressing issue affecting the neighborhood.

"Having these kids hanging out on the street and selling drugs is driving down Northside property values," Council said. "It is not fair to the black community."

But Jarvies said the police department was limited in its ability to patrol the area.

"It is hard for the cops to do much more than move them along," Jarvies said. "We can't search them, we can't use the dogs and we can't arrest them."

Residents and police agreed that there are now two houses with substantial drug activity, pushing dealing to the streets.

Mark Chilton, the director of EmPOWERment Inc., a nonprofit organization that has been buying, renovating and selling houses in the Northside neighborhood for the last three years, said he was pleased with the residential turnout.

Chilton said his goal for the event was to give residents confidence that they can have a voice in matters that affect their community.

"I think if we can get a constant presence and voice at the Town Council, they will respond and give the police department what they need," Chilton said.

Weeks earlier, some residents approached the Town Council requesting assistance combating the drug problems in their neighborhoods, particularly Northside Chapel Hill.

Jarvies suggested that residents should try to become more informed in how the council operates in order to get their desired results as quickly and easily as possible.

The committee announced Saturday that it would be writing a report with concerns and possible solutions from the day's discussion. The group also plans to present its findings to the Town Council this January.

Elaine Norwood of 100 McMasters St. saw the event as a promising start and was encouraged by the efforts that the police were making.

"(Residents) never had that much communication with the police department," Norwood said.

"Anytime you can get the police chief out to a meeting like this it is a good sign."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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