By Russ McQuaid
HAUGHVILLE (Dec. 3, 2014) – The year has not been kind to the residents of Haughville.
The west side community has been rocked by four homicides in 2014, including the killing of expectant father Nathan Trapuzzano in the spring and the murder of 15-year-old Dominique Allen in the summer. A neighborhood man is in jail for her killing.
In a community where Starbucks and organic grocers are rare, the McDonald’s restaurant in the 3400 block of West 16th Street is the local town square, where residents meet to eat and study the Bible and drink coffee.
It’s also where neighbors and small business owners met to talk about starting a community crime watch to watch each other’s backs.
“With a lot of things going on and some of the press out there we wanted to be very positive about our neighborhood and try to get together and be a community and try to do something about improving the safety of the area,” said owner Randy Shields. “We are what the community is and when you have a safe, nice community it just seems to thrive and this has been that community in the past and we want to make sure it grows to be that community again.”
Callie Sanders shared that vision as she walked along North Alton Avenue.
“We want to put our homeowners together so they can do more things and stand up for some of the things that they want to see done in Haughville,” she said. “I have a little saying, ‘You’re a hood until you become a neighborhood,’ so what that means is, if you’re a hood that means no one’s working together, the crime keep increasing, our children are doing everything and then when we all come together as a group it doesn’t matter about the age, man, when we all come together and do exactly today what we did today, later on in this next year coming we become a neighborhood because we care.”
Sanders is planning on a mentoring program for young girls next spring.
Carlin Serie is working with a west coast investor who wants to buy dozens of abandoned properties and turn them into homes for first-time buyers.
Shields can’t wait to remodel his restaurant in 2015 to provide good jobs, above minimum wage, and provide an anchor in the West 16th Street business strip and the Haughville community.
“Almost all of our employees are within a few miles of this restaurant,” he said. “They are local and they tend to walk to work when they can, and I think that tends to show the kinds of businesses we are along this corridor.”