What We Have Identified As Issues
The most successful neighborhood plans, in terms of carrying out the strategies within the plan, are contingent upon what is most important to the people that live in the area. The majority of the neighborhood issues in the Southwest Neighborhood Plan relate to improving the health of the neighborhood though crime prevention strategies.
1. Safe Homes, Streets, and Places
Safety is the utmost concern of neighborhood residents. People of all ages, races, incomes, must feel safe in their neighborhood. Police enforcement and crime prevention strategies need to work in tandem to strengthen the conviction of current and future residents that our neighborhood is a place to stay. Visibility of the police force, decrease in illegal activities, and sense of personal safety in onesâ€™ home, streets and public and private places must be achieved. Workshops on personal and home security, improved lighting of single-family and multifamily dwellings, streets, and parking lots, and reporting of criminal activity by all residents will help in achieving a safe neighborhood.
2. Retaining A Strong Housing Market
Retaining a strong market for buying into and reinvesting in the housing stock is important for the long-term health of the area. Preserving the single-family housing areas, updating the existing housing stock (i.e. conservation, mechanicals), and stabilizing deteriorating sub areas (Balsam-Russett, Bettys-Theresa-Hammersley, Park Ridge and Schroeder-Berkshire areas) with crime prevention, property management, and homeownership strategies will help build confidence in the overall housing market. Maintaining the factors that are attractive to new homebuyers, such as quality public schools, is essential.
Appearance of a neighborhood is a reflection of the level neighbors care about where they live. Unkempt buildings, tall grasses and weeds, and junk and debris are evidence of a deteriorating area. The longer the disrepair of a neighborhood, the less likely residents will take action to intervene to make changes in the physical and social environment. Improved tenant screening, building maintenance and property cleanup in the Balsam-Russett, Bettys-Theresa-Hammersley, Park Ridge and Schroeder-Berkshire areas is a start to building pride amongst neighbors. Converting duplexes to owner-occupied condominiums, constructing garages and other features to make housing more marketable, and targeting homeownership and rehabilitation loans to make homeownership a reality for low-moderate income persons. Public infrastructure investments, such as upgraded street lighting on Balsam, Russett and other higher crime areas, shrub and tree trimming to improve visibility into Hammersley Park and other open spaces, will complement other safety efforts.
3. Strengthening Neighborhoods and Families: Community and Neighborhood Services and Programs
Community centers, centers of worship, the library branch, public and parochial schools, and other service providers have seen a rise in demand for their services from the growing low-income populations. It is a greater challenge to provide accessible and cost effective services to scattered small areas of poverty that are only 2-4 blocks in size. Providing family and youth programs for lower income families that help them with basic needs, job training and placement, and quality housing will help reduce the high mobility occurring within the neighborhood. Productive, supervised, and accessible activities and programs for youth will help keep them in positive activities.
Residents, businesses, and organizations within the planning area are striving to improve the health of the area. Persons working independently will make some improvements, but bigger strides can be made by working in a coordinated fashion. Strengthening the interactions between the groups with a clear strategy on the roles that the various organizations can play will help focus time, effort, and monies on the priority issues. Establishing joint meetings amongst neighborhood associations (i.e. planning council), setting up an online network to communicate with neighbors (i.e. e-Neighbors), and working diligently with District Alderpersons and Dane County Supervisors to advocate for resources for the southwest side will help build the foundation for policy changes and/or funding resources to be allocated to the neighborhood.
4. Getting to Jobs, Shopping, and Services
An important function of any neighborhood is the movement of people to places where they want to go. A safe walking and bicycling route to the community centers, schools, and parks is important to help ensure area youth can participate in programs. Ease and frequency of bus service to employment areas, shopping centers, and community programs will make basic services more accessible to populations without access to a vehicle.
5. Bringing People Out: Walking, Gathering, and Enjoying All Places within the Neighborhood
A deterrent to crime is having people to engage in positive activities with a watchful eye toward unacceptable behavior. Community gardens in parks areas, farmers market in the shopping center, youth sports leagues at the local parks, and neighborhood events, programs and workshops at the schools bring watchful eyes that can deter criminal activities and/or be in position to report criminal activities taking place. Opportunities for individuals to interact across different ages, race, income and cultural heritage also break down barriers.
6. Accessing Career Opportunities
High turnover in residents is disruptive to the fabric of the neighborhood. Individuals, families and their children need stability. Securing living-wage jobs allows individuals to stay and invest their time and energy to make their lives, neighborhoods, and schools a better place. It is essential to work with unemployed and underemployed adults with barriers to employment, such as inconsistent work histories, limited formal education, low-value or obsolete job skill sets, criminal backgrounds and insufficient transportation, in order to stabilize and minimize the rate of turnover in the neighborhood.