Bus hosts two mobile ward meetings Thursday

Published 9:38 pm Thursday, August 16, 2012

By Sarah Cook

The Selma Times-Journal


Ward 4 was anything but stationary Thursday as it took to the streets in a “rolling ward meeting.”

Citizens boarded a mini-bus in the Selma Mall parking lot and talked about pressing issues, like new ward boundaries and problems including litter, overgrown vacant lots, drag racing, questionable night foot-traffic and graffiti.

Selma Ward 4 councilmember Angela Benjamin led the meeting, which included three major stops outlining the new ward boundaries.

“Citizens were really excited about the meeting,” Benjamin said. “Now they can go back in to the community and tell people where the new boundaries are.”

To help answer citizen questions, representatives from public works, the Selma Police Department, code enforcement and planning and development rode along.

Litter and overgrown, unkempt property was one of the main issues discussed.

“Overgrown grass is the main issue during the summer months,” said Natalie Shelton of code enforcement. “That’s the issue that we tackle and get the most complaints about.”

For citizens to see results for problems like overgrown property, Shelton said a lengthy process is involved, which entails going through the city attorney, the city clerk, and then there’s a three week waiting period.

“People don’t know this process,” Benjamin said. “They think their work order is just sitting on a desk somewhere, but no, it’s actually working its way through the process.”

Another main issue discussed was the problem of “questionable night foot traffic,” especially in the area that connects Concordia College campus to Thornhill Drive.

Benjamin suggested a connecting wall be built to cut off the path. However, homeowners would need to consent to this connecting barrier because it would be on private property, Benjamin said.

During the meeting, Benjamin also pointed out areas that are no longer considered to be in Ward 4, like the Walmart shopping area and the PAL center. The Winn Dixie shopping center and the area behind it are still in Ward 4, Benjamin said.

Sgt. Natasha Rozzell addressed issues of criminal activity with those in attendance.

“The police are constantly providing extra patrol of the area,” Rozzell said. “Normally about the time the police get there (the scene of the complaint) though, of course they’re gone and you really can’t do anything about it if you don’t make contact with anyone.”

Rozzell suggested homeowners make an effort to identify any trespassers so the police department can protect the area better.

Benjamin said she hopes citizens have a better understanding of the issues involving Ward 4 after attending the meeting.

“I think this was actually a really good idea,” Shelton said. “For citizens to actually know what is consisted of their ward and the parameters of their ward is really good.”