About this Article
- Location Helentown, KY
- Submitted By Daniel Hampton, Project Engineer
While working at CSX, I was relocated to Fort Wright, KY to take a new position as a Project Engineer. I bought a new house in the City of Covington, KY, which is just two miles from the office and within walking distance of the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals stadiums.
After the first six months, I discovered that there were some crime issues in our neighborhood that needed to be eliminated. We had a meeting at a neighbor's house, and decided to form a Neighborhood Watch group. We met with police on a monthly basis, and handed out flyers to all the neighbors inviting them to attend, and letting others know that our group existed.
After nine months of meetings, we decided that more needed to be done. We formed the Helentown Neighborhood Association, of which I was elected Chairman. By working with the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington, we were placed in contact with all other neighborhood associations in the city, and made aware of local grants available through Place Matters, whose main sponsor is The United Way. We chose two projects: one to eliminate crime, and the other to bring our neighbors together.
The project to eliminate crime focused on a dead end street in our neighborhood where crimes had occurred due to its isolation and location. Using my skills as a project engineer, I developed a project that utilized Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), which modifies or redesigns an area's layout to make it feel like a place where criminal actions are not accepted.
By coordinating with the city engineer and local utilities, we cut back the trees along the street, added new lighting and upgraded existing lighting, making the whole street visible during day and night. Using the grant money, we gathered together with the street's residents and planted flowering pots up and down the street. The beautification lets a potential criminal know that this is a location where people care. The residents all came out to participate in the planting even though it started pouring down rain. Many residents hadn't spoken with each other before, and mentioned how they now felt comfortable in their neighborhood again.
Since the project was completed, no further crimes have occurred on that street and overall crime in the neighborhood has significantly dropped as reported by the police in our monthly meetings. It is now a quiet neighborhood where property values have increased or remained constant despite the economic downturn. It has been encouraging to see the impact that volunteering in your local neighborhood can have on your quality of life.