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To Barricade or Not to Barricade, That is the Question!

A street blocked? Why would anyone want that? 16th Ave. Block Club complaints and kids asking for safety years ago resulted in a Barricade blocking vehicular traffic on E. 25th St, between Bloomington Ave. and 16th Ave. S. just South of the S.A. Gas Station and Convenience store. Now its appearance and need are being discussed.

by Brad Pass

A BARRICADE MEETING:

On Tuesday evening, July 18th, 2017 the neighborhood gathered at Open Arms to discuss the Barricades which have blocked vehicular traffic on E 25th St. between Bloomington Ave. and 16th Ave. S. for many years. The issue, as pointed out by Third Precinct Lt. Catherine Johnson, is that in the last two years crime statistics in the area have risen precipitously. Everyone at the meeting agreed that the police statistics more of less accurately reflect what is happening on the ground. There was disagreement as to the cause of, and the solution to, the problem.

The CAUSE?

Some thought that the Barricades had become institutionalized and were seen as a place free of traffic and interference that could be used by prostitutes, users, dealers, and the homeless to conduct their business.

Some wondered if the elimination or lack of enforcement of “Livability Crimes” such as the “No Loitering” law and others is related to the increase of crime and asked to see the relationship of the increase of police crime statistics to the date of elimination.

Some wondered if the difficulty of enforcing the “No Trespassing” ordinance was related to the increase. (In addition to having the authorized sign posted, the property owner must file a “Trespassing Authorization” form with the local police precinct. When a Trespassing incident occurs, the owner must confront the trespassers and get each to Print their name and sign the “Trespass Notice Form” which says, “YOU ARE HEREBY REQUESTED TO DEPART FROM THIS LAND AND NOT TO RETURN FOR ONE YEAR”. The owner must include his/her name on the form, give a copy to the trespassers and save the original. All this while not knowing if the trespasser is dangerous and has a weapon or not, thus forcing police work on property owners.

Some saw the barricades as an essential safety feature of the neighborhood unrelated to the increase in crime.

Native Americans at the meeting perceived the barricades as an implicit statement cordoning off and thereby devaluing their community with respect to the rest of the neighborhood.

The SOLUTION?

Some wanted the Barricades removed permanently.

Some wanted them to remain indefinitely but to be improved in appearance.

Some wanted them removed on a trial basis.

Some wanted them removed with another traffic calming amenity such as a Traffic Circle installed at 17th Ave. S and E 25th St. similar to ones at 32, 34, & 36 Streets and 17th Ave. S. or a street wide Wrought Iron Gate.

In the end, it was decided to meet again August 8, 2017 at 6:30 PM. To further discuss the issue. Watch for notification of meeting location or contact Alondra Cano.

The HISTORY

Many years ago, in response to complaints from the 16th Ave. Block Club, a Barricade was erected blocking vehicular traffic on E. 25th St, between Bloomington Ave. and 16th Ave. S. just South of the S.A. Gas Station and Convenience store.

Why would anyone want that, you might ask?  Before the barricade was erected, E. 25th St. was an East to West conduit for everything illegal between Bloomington Ave. on the West and Cedar Field Park on the East. At one time in the past this stretch of road was called the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the area was referred to as Baby Beirut. Then several young kids came to an EPIC meeting and told how they had to dive into the S.A. dumpster to avoid being hit by a hail of gunfire. One was hit in the leg. They asked us to do something to make it safe. How could we say No? The residents formed the Bloomington Ave. Citizen’s Patrol.

The Citizen’s Patrol had its base at their card table at the intersection of E 25th and Bloomington Ave. and patrolled East and Midtown Phillips every morning with coffee on the corner and walking, biking and driving patrols for 2 ½ years, never missing a morning. This effort led to Security Cameras on Bloomington, getting to know and offer help to the prostitutes, users and even some dealers as well as proving to the police that there were actually decent, concerned people in the ‘hood, and eventually, it led to the Barricade. It all made an incredible difference.

Many times, over the years, EPIC and the neighbors tried to get more permanent, better looking barricades only to be told that they needed to be able to be fully and easily removed for various reasons. As time passed and especially in the last two years, Police records and citizens observations show a radical increase in illegal activity in the neighborhood and the Barricades seem to have become a gathering place for the homeless and those using and dealing drugs.

Join us on August 8th, 2017 at 6:30 PM and give the residents your ideas. The Location of the meeting is not yet confirmed.

Partial list of Meeting Attendees: Karen Clark, Lt. Catherine Johnson Alondra Cano, Carol Pass, Brad Pass, Mark Welna, Linda Leonard, Mary Gonsior, Cassie Holmes, Joanie Essenburg, Tim Essenburg, Apologies to the many attendees not included.

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