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Council hears local concerns
During community meeting

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ruby Stultz is tired of the bad reputation that her neighborhood is getting.

Stultz, the Neighborhood Watch captain on Pony Place, told Martinsville City Council on Monday that the city’s West End is “now labeled as a ghetto area” due to crimes — such as a Nov. 17 shooting incident — that have occurred there in recent years.

“It’s really out of hand,” she said. “You don’t know if you’re going to go to bed and wake up the next morning” or become the next shooting fatality.

She added that she understands at least one shooting victim was killed because he was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Stultz suggested that the Martinsville Police Department set up a command center in the neighborhood for a few months to deter violence.

Eddie Cassady, the city’s interim police chief, said that when violent crimes occur, the police department usually puts extra officers on patrol in affected areas for a while to try and prevent further crimes and chaos.

Stultz noted that professional workers and other types of people who are usually law-abiding live in the West End.

She made her remarks during the council’s Southside-focused neighborhood meeting at Fuller Memorial Baptist Church on Askin Street.

About 30 people from throughout the city attended. They informally voiced to the council their concerns about issues affecting their neighborhoods.

Among concerns heard by council members were a problem with stray cats in the Quincy Street area, rats getting into sewer pipes in the Adele Street area, a city inspector not showing up at a Graves Street home to inspect a ramp being built for a disabled person and trash being placed on curbs long before collection day.

City officials indicated they would look into the situations.

Before the meeting, council members and some city staff members toured Southside and nearby areas by van to see conditions of properties there.

They noticed vacant lots on Oak and Dunlap streets where garbage and old furniture have been dumped. They also saw houses on various streets which they indicated should be cleaned up, in addition to the dump sites, because they appeared to have large amounts of junk being stored there.

Deputy Fire Marshal/Property Maintenance Inspector Andy Powers said the city has been working with some of the property owners to try and get them to clean up their properties.

Yet he had not known about some of the properties identified on Monday. He said nobody apparently has lodged complaints about them.

The city only deals with nuisance properties which it has received complaints about. Officials say they do not have the time, amid other duties, to regularly ride around Martinsville looking for such properties.

City Manager Leon Towarnicki said the MARC Workshop has offered to give the city a condemned building on Wingfield Street. However, he said he has determined it would cost the city about $20,000 to demolish the structure. Of that amount, about $16,000 would have to be spent to remove building materials containing asbestos, he said.

While passing by the New College Institute’s new building being erected on the Baldwin Block uptown, Councilman Mark Stroud said it “looks good.” He pointed out that the building’s roof recently was installed.


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