Neighborhoods around Jamestown are working hard to build stronger community ties.
Almost 100 residents turned out to Lillian Dickson Park on Tuesday for the National Night Out. The celebration, which is held around the country as a way to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie, was also held in three other locations in the city - Pearl Avenue, Prather Avenue and Hebner Street.
"I'm just happy everybody showed up here tonight," said Wilson Cooper, who lives near Lillian Dickson Park. "It's all about making this a better place. If people know that we're here, maybe it will change the whole community in the future. You can't expect change to happen in 20 minutes, though, it something that takes time."
P-J photo by Ryan Atkins
Executive Director Matt Peskin introduced National Night Out in 1984. The first National Night Out took place on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 1984, and that first year, 2.5 million Americans took part across 400 communities in 23 states.
Peskin said, "It's a wonderful opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention, and neighborhood camaraderie. While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, National Night Out represents the kind of spirit, energy and determination to help make neighborhoods a safer place year round. The night celebrates safety and crime prevention successes and works to expand and strengthen programs for the next 364 days."
During the event at Lillian Dickson Park, there was a disc jockey providing music for the gathering, members of the local Masonic order offering the New York Masonic Safety ID Program, a suggestion box for what area residents want to see happen at the park in the future and more. Several local officials also made a point of stopping by the event, including Mayor Sam Teresi; Randy Sweeney, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation executive director; Greg Rabb, City Council president, D-At Large; Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2; Harry Snellings, police chief; Vince DeJoy, director of development; John Williams, parks manager; and Max Martin, Eastside YMCA branch manager.
"The turnout at Prather Avenue tonight was fantastic," Teresi said. "They have a wonderful, emerging, tight neighborhood organization over there. They've set out a four-point program of achievable things like mowing their lawns every week, reporting any suspicious activity, simple things like that which help a neighborhood abide by the laws."
"Our motto has been, since I've been mayor, that you can't have too many jobs or too many playgrounds in any community," Teresi continued. "It's a standing offer that we've made to the folks here in this neighborhood that if they want to partner with us on a project, we'll figure out a way to take what was an emerging detriment for the neighborhood and turn it into a shining asset."
In keeping with the theme of the National Night Out, Chief Snellings took time during the event to meet with residents, speak with them about their concerns and explain the concept of a neighborhood watch to them, as well.
"I'd asked Chief Snellings if he could come down just in case anybody had any questions," Cooper said. "Like he's told us before, this is our area. This is where we have to live."
For more information about National Night Out and its partner organization, the National Association of Town Watch, visit www.natw.org. For more information about setting up a neighborhood watch, contact the Jamestown Police Department at 483-7536.