by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, May 2011) Commanders from both the First and Second Police Districts gave advise and shared tips on reducing neighborhood crime at the April 14th West 73rd & Neighborhood Coalition Block Club meeting. Donna Brooks, the chair of the block club says the club, which serves the area from W. 71st to W. 82nd between Denison and Clark Avenues, lies partially in each of the two police districts. The boundary for the two police districts is W. 73rd. The West 73rd & Neighborhood Coalition Block Club, formerly served by the Stockyard Redevelopment Organization, is now served by the newly formed Stockyard, Clark-Fulton & Brooklyn Centre Community Development Organization.
A resident raised concern about a racial incident at The Hill, a bar at W. 73rd and Wentworth, which happened on St. Patrick’s Day. First District Commander Thomas N. McCartney said race issues are a high priority call. He noted that while the First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech, residents could help combat racism by making it clear that they don’t approve of racial jokes or taunts – he suggested telling the person “you are offending me” and telling the owner of the establishment you are unhappy with what you heard.
Residents said the owner of The Hill did not condone the actions of a non-regular person visiting the bar on St. Patrick’s Day. One resident suggested that perhaps the owner should consider hiring private security to handle the larger crowds on St. Patrick’s Day.
Another resident noted that the shooting that occurred at The Hill several months ago involved two locals. Commander McCartney took the opportunity to speak out against legislation recently passed by the Ohio Senate that would allow guns in bars. He said, “Alcohol and firearms, don’t mix.” Commander McCartney noted that if the bill, which still needs to be voted on by the Ohio House, becomes law– privately owned bars can still prohibit firearms in their establishments.
Second District Commander Keith Sulzer urged residents to call when they hear gunshots. He suggested it is best if the person closest to the incident that knows the exact address or intersection of the shooting be the one that calls rather than a phone tree of residents calling. He said it is less confusing if someone can give the exact address.
Commander Sulzer urged residents to be prepared in advance by writing down the address of problem houses in the neighborhood so they can relay the address to the dispatcher when making a call about a neighborhood nuisance. He urged residents to also make an effort to get the landlord’s name and phone number as well. He said it is a huge help for police to be able to call the landlord with a warning.
Ward 16 Councilman Jay Westbrook noted that when a property is subjected to repeated nuisance calls, the Cleveland Nuisance Law allows landlords to be cited for problems caused by their tenants. When there are repeated nuisance calls at a property, landlords or homeowners are sent a letter giving them a certain amount of time for them to correct a problem at their property.
The commanders had some additional suggestions to add to neighborhood safety including securing the license plates of problem cars or cars involved in suspicious activity, and walking the neighborhood with neighbors and looking other pedestrians in the eye and saying hello as you pass. They noted that saying hello and looking someone in the eye could be disarming to someone passing through the neighborhood that is up to no good. They urged residents not to dismiss their hunches, but to call and let police know about suspicious activity.
Both Commanders urged residents to call their offices directly for non-emergency calls. The phone number for the First District Commander is 623-5105. The phone number for the Second District Commander is 623-5205.
Ward 16 Councilman Jay Westbrook updated residents on a nightclub that unexpectedly opened on Denison Avenue at W. 73rd. After seeing a hand made sign announcing the All Starz Lounge, Councilman Westbrook says he visited the establishment accompanied by vice officers on New Year’s Day. Westbrook said a couple that was running a restaurant on one side of the building had requested approval of a liquor license so they could serve liquor to their restaurant customers. In order to get the City of Cleveland’s support for the liquor permit, the couple had signed a cooperative agreement that liquor would be a secondary use to the food service and that the business would close at midnight.
However, upon visiting the nightclub, Westbrook learned that the couple that had originally asked for the liquor permit were behind in their rent and had closed their restaurant and given their liquor permit to the owner of the building. Westbrook said the building owner, Mr. Gallo, is a liquor license broker. Westbrook said the Gallo family was involved in previous troublesome nightclubs at the site, such as Century Lounge, and was involved in the new nightclub.
Westbrook says a surprise visit to the bar by the vice squad resulted in its closing. Among the items found was a craps table in the basement. Westbrook says the owner has decided to move the liquor permit to another location.
Block Club chair Donna Brooks announced a neighborhood cleanup from 10 a.m. – noon on April 30th. Residents agreed to meet at the corner of Brinsmade and W. 73rd. Volunteers were encouraged to come to the Lin Omni Center parking lot after the cleanup for hot dogs and pop.
Stockyards, Clark- Fulton & Brooklyn Center Community Development Office (SCFBCCDO) staff person Adam Gifford announced several other opportunities for neighborhood involvement. He noted the Riversweep cleanup would be on May 7th. Volunteers will meet at 3301 Train Avenue at 9 a.m.
Gifford also announced the meeting of the Housing Committee of (SCFBCCDO) on Wednesday, May 11th at the SCFBCCDO’s office on the 3rd floor of the Lin Omni Center at 3167 Fulton Road, just north of St. Rocco Church. Residents involved in the committee noted that Building and Housing Director Ed Rybka and Community Development Director Daryl Rush are scheduled to come the meeting. Residents hope to address the lack of funds to tear down vacant and abandoned houses in the neighborhood.
Chairperson Brooks noted the need for volunteers to help with the Stockyard Neighborhood Bike-a-thon on Saturday, May 21st at 11 a.m. at Clark Elementary School.
Councilman Westbrook noted a Cudell neighborhood housing fair to be held at Cudell Recreation Center on Tuesday, May 10th from 6-8 p.m. He also mentioned a proposal for changes in the traffic pattern on Halle to alleviate congestion as school lets out