Marietta: More watch programs needed

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY -- More Neighborhood Watch programs are needed to help combat crime problems, Albany City Commission Roger Marietta said Thursday afternoon at a community forum for residents of Ward 4 that he represents.

"The number one topic when I talk to anyone in homeowners' associations is crime," Marietta said at the meeting at Darton College. "We have to focus more on areas that are not covered by neighborhood watch. Winterwood and Station Crossings need neighborhood watches. I might have to go out and bang on doors to get them started."

Albany Police Department officials at the forum got a round of applause for their crime-fighting efforts from the about 40 people in the room, which included Albany Fire Department officials, city staff and residents.

Residents at the forum who needed to know where to call for answers to questions about city, county or Water Gas & Light services could ask Cindy Tiernan of the non-emergency call center. The center can be reached by calling 311 or (229) 878-3111 for non-emergency information, ranging from asking for the locations of libraries to reporting clogged storm drains.

Desiree Estabrook-Zhou of the Department of Community & Economic Development handed out surveys that she said could help bring grant money to the city's neighborhoods in the form of Community Development Block Grants.

The grants primarily help lower-middle class and less financially advantaged neighborhoods, she said.

Another source of money for neighborhood projects such as road and bridge repairs or developing better parks is the special-purpose local-option sales tax, Marietta said. "We used that money to renovate Gordon Park," he said. "I'd like to know ideas for what we can do with any SPLOST money; e-mail or call me with ideas."

Speaking for the city of Albany-Dougherty County Complete Count Committee, Howard Brown, organization chairman, encouraged everyone to fill out the 2010 U.S. Census forms when received.

"For each return that is not mailed back," Brown said, "the city loses $1,700 in grant money from the government."

Fire Chief James Carswell explained how his staff had reduced many insurance bills in the county by reducing the scores insurance companies use to rate residential and commercial buildings.

His department continues to seek ways to lower the insurance costs for people in the city and county, he said.