For 18 months now, village hall has been kicking around the idea of leveraging property owners’ investment interests to try and nip crime in a more proactive fashion. Originally, the embodiment of this notion came in the form of the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program out of Arizona and was expected to target multi-unit apartment buildings. Managers and landlords would be forced to get tough with tenants who repeatedly broke the law, and the police department would be there to show them how to do it.
Since June 2008 when Mayor Anthony Calderone made his initial pitch, the Review has written five stories on how it might work and when it might begin. Details were never clear, and there’s been zero discussion at the council level. Then, lo and behold, the council unanimously approves sweeping regulations with nary a word about what this change means for every single property owner in Forest Park. Odd.
Public officials still have a lot of work to do before this type of effort can be successful. Unfortunately, there’s been no attempt to pull stakeholders into the process thus far and with the “chronic nuisance” ordinance taking effect this month, that’s a shame.
The power of this type of program, as the mayor and police chief readily understand, comes from the community that supports it. There must be, then, an enthusiastic and widespread effort by the folks at village hall to sit with stakeholders and have a genuine discussion about how this program gets rolled out. In all likelihood, the majority of property owners in town would be supportive of a cooperative effort that helps stabilize their neighborhood. But that support would surely wane if Big Brother unloads these regulations in a quiet, clumsy and poorly organized fashion.
That the council didn’t have much to say before blasting ahead with a 5-0 vote is not a good start.