West Ward housing complex praised by Newark leaders as model for safety

Star Ledger: West Ward housing complex praised by Newark leaders as model for safety

After a February 2009 shoot-out in the troubled West Ward complex left five people injured, Georgia King worked with Newark Now to establish an on-site family success center and a resident council. Since August, it has seen no shootings and a stark reduction in drug sales and violent crime, according to city leaders.

Through financial counseling, field trips for children, bookbag giveaways, and similar “community nurturing programs” residents from the buildings and officials from the non-profits say they have begun to turn the complex around, but point to continued work if the effort is to be sustained and duplicated throughout the city.

Very exciting to see what can happen when you creatively take limited resources and direct them to focused solutions.

“More police on the beat” is only one solution to the problem of crime, but it doesn’t affect lasting change. The true challenge is to restore neighborhoods with lasting solutions that get to the root cause issues.

Taking Newark Back, One Piece at a Time

City Hall has issued a press release about the city’s efforts to take Newark back, one piece at a time.
Taking advantage of state legislation that gives cities expanded authority to reclaim properties that have been “vacant for more than six months and have unpaid taxes, or have been deemed blighted and hazardous to public safety.”

Think of it as Eminent Domain on steroids, but doubtless a law that’s been asked for across the state as beleaguered homeowners find it easier to walk away from homes with far higher mortgage payments — and far less value — in the midst of a massive market correction.

“Even in this tough economy, the revitalization of our City’s West Ward is beginning in earnest,” said Deputy Mayor Pryor. Private owners are responding to our actions by fixing up their buildings. Our development team is intervening to rehab five key properties. And we’re creating a garden and park where there was a vacant lot. All while involving local and minority participants in the process of creating new affordable housing. Thank you to the City Hall staff leaders and our many partners for making today’s progress possible.”

Continue reading “Taking Newark Back, One Piece at a Time”

Unknown substance sickens dozens in Newark

Unknown substance sickens dozens in Newark
Creepy hazmat situation in the West Ward.

Emergency responders were called around 11:25 a.m. to the six-family, three-floor apartment building at 521 S. 17th St. after residents complained of light headedness, sore throats and itchy eyes. The building was evacuated.

The city’s Hazmat team is investigating. A crew from PSE&G was called, but determined that natural gas was not leaking into the building, said John Brown, a spokesman for the Newark Fire Department. Authorities also checked 281 16th Ave., a community center near the apartment complex, but found nothing that would have caused the problem.

New Parks Coming to Newark

Jesse Allen Park

I received a flyer from the City Hall the other day describing the new parks coming to the city. The city is partnering with philanthropists to bring playgrounds, sports fields, pools and walkable green space to Newark neighborhoods.

Mayor Cory A. Booker and the City Council create the largest historic fund for City Parks

Through Green Spaces, a historic public-private partnership, Mayor Cory A. Booker has announced the restoration and construction of parks throughout the City of Newark.

The City of Newark has committed $20 million of capital funds which will be matched by private dolllars. Mayor Cory Booker is partnering with foundations, organizations, such as The Trust For Public Land, and individual philanthropists from around the country to accomplish this ambitious goal.

The renovated parks will include improved city pools, professional quality football and soccer fields, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, state-of-the-art playground equipment and more. These parks will provide Newarkers of all ages safe and expanded opportunities for recreation, relaxation and sports competition.

“Every young person and adult in our City, in every neighborhood, should have abundant access to green spaces, parks and recreation. This should be a fundamental part of life in our City and I am determined to transform our City’s landscape to accomplish this goal,” Mayor Cory A. Booker.

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See full release: Moving Newark Forward: New City Parks (PDF).

NJ.com: Newark police ID West Ward shooting victim

Newark police ID West Ward shooting victim

Jimmy Curry, 27, was discovered early Thursday morning in a dark-gray Pontiac with bullet holes on the driver’s side of the vehicle, parked on the 200 block of South 7th Street near South Orange Avenue.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have not identified a motive or a suspect.

NJ.com: Newark police investigate possible fatal shooting

Newark police investigate possible fatal shooting

Newark police are investigating a possible late-night homicide in the city’s West Ward.

Authorities were towing a dark Pontiac with bullet holes on the driver’s side of the vehicle, parked on the 200 block of South 7th Street near South Orange Avenue.

Star Ledger: Prosecutor finds Newark cop justified in shooting

Star Ledger: Prosecutor finds Newark cop justified in shooting

Watson, 31, whose parents live in the home, was awake and getting ready for his shift when he heard a car door slam and then the thumping on the door, authorities said.

The officer went downstairs with his service revolver and opened the door to tell the men they had the wrong house, police said. He found Cousar pointing a handgun at him, drew his weapon and fired three shots, two of which struck Cousar in the chest, authorities said.

Todd McClendon, a spokesman for the Newark police, said Sunday that the four men may have been seeking someone involved in the robbery of a friend earlier in the day. Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said they are believed to have gone to the wrong house.

The case has been turned over to the prosecutor’s office, which will investigate and present its findings to a grand jury for review, as is routine with all fatal shootings by police officers.

Star Ledger: Duo seek to bring sparkle back to West Ward

Star Ledger: Duo seek to bring sparkle back to West Ward

The West Ward initiative is a pilot program that is designed to rebuild a neighborhood using a grassroots approach. That means selecting local developers who hire Newark residents to build and restore homes. Officials have vowed that community input will play a large role and have emphasized they do not plan to gentrify the neighborhood, rather spruce it up and reestablish a community feel to it.

Drawing residents in all parts of the process, officials say, will instill a sense of pride and engender community empowerment. The city plans to expand the idea to other parts of the city.

“This is just the beginning,” Booker said. “This is my pledge. It’s going to be replicated in other areas of the West Ward. It’s going to be replicated in the East Ward. It’s going to be replicated all over the city.”

Star Ledger: Victim critical after drive-by shooting in Newark park

Star Ledger: Victim critical after drive-by shooting in Newark park

The victim, whom detectives have yet to identify, was standing in the park near South 17th Street at 10:30 a.m. when a red Jeep approched and someone inside opened fire, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said.

New York Times: Trying to Escape Attackers, Teenager Is Shot to Death

New York Times: “Trying to Escape Attackers, Teenager Is Shot to Death”:http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/14/nyregion/14newark.html

A 16-year-old boy running from attackers in Newark yesterday afternoon was fatally shot in the back just as he was climbing over a fence, the police said.

The boy, whose name was not released, toppled over the chain-link fence and landed on a dirty, discarded mattress, according to bystanders who described the shooting. A second youth who was also fleeing escaped, they said.

A number of youths were outdoors near the scene, in the fading light of the late afternoon. Friends and relatives rushed to the victim’s aid, lifted him over the fence and drove him several blocks to University Hospital, where he was soon pronounced dead.

A spokeswoman for the city, Lupe Todd, said that investigators had no immediate comment on possible suspects or a motive. The patrol car left the scene carrying one person whose head was concealed by a blanket, bystanders said.