2008-06-07 / News

Block watches could be organized in Buckeye Lake

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE - There may be more eyes and ears in Buckeye Lake as residents discuss establishing block watches with help from the Licking County Sheriff's Department.

"First approach your local police department," said Licking County Sheriff Captain Tom Lee. Buckeye Lake Mayor Frank Foster mentioned during the April 28 Buckeye Lake Village Council meeting that Cranberry Bay residents are considering establishing a neighborhood block watch to deter crime, and the sheriff's department can help to establish the block watch.

Lee said Deputy Nichole Wallace heads Licking County's block watch program, which sponsors a series of awareness programs and some self-defense training programs. "It's all driven by what the community wants," said Lee.

He added that the best defense people have against crime is being reasonably nosey. "Getting to know your neighbors," said Lee, "that's the big thing." The more residents know about each other, the more obvious it will be if there's something wrong or unusual.

Lee said there are "four or five" such citizens' groups within Licking County. On a national scale, Lee said citizens' groups began in Los Angeles in the 1960s, when running a household demanded dual incomes. No one was home during the day and the opportunities for theft increased exponentially. Also, electronics became cheaper and homeowners purchased multiple television sets, complex stereos, and many temptations for thieves. "Wives worked and people bought more stuff," said Lee, who reiterated that anyone wanting to start a neighborhood watch should contact the Buckeye Lake Police Department first.

Buckeye Lake Village Council member and community development committee chair Jeryne Peterson said her committee met with Lee, Wallace, and Buckeye Lake Police Chief Ron Small May 27 to discuss creating a block watch program. Peterson said a block watch is a "proactive approach" to crime prevention. The block watch program requires a coordinator in each subdivision. A "phone tree," or calling list, or an email chain is formed, and each subdivision or neighborhood would have a communication plan to follow if someone sees something unusual happening.

If a neighborhood or subdivision wishes to establish a block watch, Peterson said Lee or Wallace could provide guest speakers to inform residents about topics like sexual offenders/predators, and drugs and youth, among others. To get started, community development committee members suggest having an open meeting for anyone who wishes to become involved. The committee would need two to three people from each area in the village to establish a block watch, and back-ups are needed to cover absences.

In other council news:

• As the village plans to install a public water system soon, council members discussed water towers during the May 26 meeting. They plan to build a 500,000 gallon tower near Mill Dam Road. They basically have three choices of design-a "mushroom-shape" with one "leg" to elevate the tank, several "legs" supporting the tank, or a tall, slender tube that can be modified to look like a lighthouse. The lighthouse design is also the least expensive. "It's very unique; it would identify the village from the highway," said Foster.

• Foster said developer Gary McAnally, who built the two large homes near the North Shore Boat Ramp, is ready to "go full blast" on the rest of the project, which has been stalled. Foster said McAnally intends to build 19 such homes within the gated project-two less than originally planned when the project was approved.

Council member Drew Bourne asked if there is any way the village could require developers to complete projects on a deadline to avoid any more stalls. "Not really," said Foster. "You can't legally force someone to finish a project."

• Foster said the village solicited requests for qualificationsfor general engineering services. The primary reason, he said, is that the pending and anticipated future development reviews, "which are paid for by the developers by them paying us and then we pay the engineers," said Foster, will likely exceed the $25,000 state maximum. Completing the qualificationprocess allows the village to exceed the maximum when necessary.

• The village-wide yard sale is June 20, 21, and 22. No permits are required that weekend.

• Council President Charlene Hayden said May 12 that Slocum Road residents are upset because their properties are now in a flood plain, which is raising their insurance rates. She said that while she sympathizes, flood plains are determined by Licking County Planning, not the Village of Buckeye Lake. "The village is not responsible for those flood plain maps," said Hayden.

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