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State of the City Address by Mayor Mark Stodola, Tuesday, March 26, 2013

city-of-little-rock-logoYou are cordially invited to the State of the City Address by Mayor Mark Stodola, Tuesday, March 26, 2013, Noon at Little Rock City Hall Rotunda, 500 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72201.

 

Keep Little Rock Beautiful kicks off 4th annual city wide clean up at Pettaway Park

keep-little-rock-beautiful-logoKeep Little Rock Beautiful

Kicks Off tomorrow at Pettaway Park

The East Broadway Alert Center in conjunction with Keep Little Rock Beautiful will kick off its 4th annual city wide clean up event, 8:00 am, March 9, 2013 at Pettaway Park (corner of East 21st and Commerce Streets) in downtown Little Rock.  Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola will issue a proclamation to kick off the event.  Bring your rakes, pruners, garden gloves, good cheer and play your part in keeping Little Rock beautiful.  For a list of clean up locations click here.

KLRB will kick off 4th annual city wide clean up at Pettaway Park

keep-little-rock-beautiful-logoLittle Rock cleanup joins national efforts
an excerpt from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
March 3, 2013

Keep Little Rock Beautiful will host its fourth annual city-wide cleanup March 9, 2013.

The nonprofit organization promotes litter pickup, recycling, city beautification and community improvement.  The cleanup will take place in conjunction with similar events across the country in march for the Great American Cleanup, which involves an estimated 3 million volunteers throughout the nation.

Little Rock’s cleanup will kick off at 8 a.m. at Pettaway Park at East 21st and Commerce streets.  Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola will issue a proclamation before volunteers get underway.

A recycling trailer will be located at the East Broadway Alert Center at 500 E. 21st St. for bottles and cans collected during the pickup.

The organization chose the Pettaway neighborhood as the large group project for the cleanup because of the effort residents have put into cleaning up the neighborhood and reclaiming it from its former reputation as a center of gang activity.

Neighborhoods all over Little Rock are encouraged to host and organize cleanup activities and can register their events with the Keep Little Rock Beautiful staff for help, supplies and T-shirts for volunteers.  Last year, 38 groups registered cleanups.

 

Chief Stuart Thomas speaks to the Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods

From Kathy Wells, President of the Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods

 

To CGLRN from Pres. Kathy Wells:

 

Chief Stuart Thomas of the LR Police Dept. discussed new patterns of crime with members of the Coalition of Greater LR Neighborhoods yesterday morning, and pointed to more officers, cars and cameras coming soon. Mayor Mark Stodola dropped by to contribute to the discussion, and urged pressure on legislators to keep thieves in state prison longer. Both lamented the lack of probation and parole officers, and criticized state officials for not making good on the promises two years ago to expand these workforces. The mayor urged citizens to press prosecutors to be more aggressive in cases of a felon in possession of a firearm. Dir. Ken Richardson of Ward 2 also spoke.  Both agreed the city was arresting those with prior records, in most cases.

Richardson urged resources be devoted to assuring there is a job for those who want one, and food to eat. He reported young women were now committing crimes and getting arrested for robberies the same as young males 20 years ago, so officials should create policies the fit that reality. He called, again, for a systemic policy that provided various types of help for a family at risk, in need of the basics. Teens growing into adulthood need continued attention, he said.

Thomas noted crime crept westward as the city grew in that direction, and the mobility of cars means they move all around, even to nearby cities and back. Some are holding up nearby pizza parlors, he added, which was not previously the case – robbers once were careful not to commit crimes close to home. Everybody is up all night nowadays, so robbers follow the population into all the hours of the day, he said. Another fresh pattern is the rise in the secondary crime – passing a stolen credit card onto to another thief, which defrauds a shop using this.

Asked about declining population in the Capitol View-Stifft Station neighborhood, where unrelenting burglaries have resulted in owners fleeing elsewhere, leaving behind vacant houses that soon attract transients, fires on cold nights, and burned-out structures that spiral downward into a decline, Thomas said his new resources in manpower and equipment would be applied there. He’s hiring away certified officers from other departments, putting them on the streets faster than new recruits, Thomas said. He promised visible patrols in the area.

An Arkansas Democrat Gazette reporter attended, and her story in today’s paper began:

LR crime patterns shifting, 15 told

By Chelsea Boozer

LITTLE ROCK — With more staff members and increased video surveillance, police hope to target the unpredictable crime patterns that have developed in Little Rock, Police Chief Stuart Thomas told a group of concerned residents Saturday.

“Traditionally, a lot of robberies — particularly at convenience stores and fast-food [restaurants] — were late at night. Now those seem to attract [robbers] just about any time of the day,” Thomas said at the January meeting of the Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods.

The rest of the story is on 1 B of the Democrat Sunday.

Thomas said the  general perception of more violence than ever does not hold up in the records. In fact, he said, violent crime is down for 10 months of 2012, compared to the same time in 2011. Property crimes are up, and officers cannot keep up with that chase, Thomas said frankly. He noted detectives are arresting more workers robbing bosses using insider knowledge, and called for more rigorous background checks on job applicants.

Specific steps a citizen may take today focused on continuing vigilance in daily routines. Thomas maintained citizens deter criminals when they are alert, aware of surroundings, and take those basic precautions we know – not going alone, keeping to lighted areas, keeping cars empty, locked, and purses and IPads off seats, keys out of car ignitions, and selling goods on auction websites like EBay, instead of Craig’s List, where a meeting occurs. Robbers are seeking victims with IPads and the like to sell and setting up meetings in unsafe places, he added.

Citizens can press for better security where they shop, the chief continued, and ask for cameras on parking lots, especially grocery stores, which attract purse snatchers, as well as keeping posters off front windows that may screen robbers from view, hindering police.

Neighborhood cameras provided by neighborhood groups are welcomed, Thomas said, and technology allows those images to be store online in the “cloud.”

Thomas and Stodola together discounted use of a Reverse911 system, a technology that enables authorities to call every phone in a territory with a recorded notice of a chemical spill, a prison break or other major safety threat. Bless their hearts, policemen cannot break the habits ingrained by the profession, and let much information out to citizens. Their solutions call for more resources for the department, so they deliver protection to citizens themselves. So uncomfortable did they become when pressed to take citizen information and transmit this back out to the community, Thomas dragged up mention of the 600 sex offenders his agency munities in the city. No one raised concerns about new offenses being committed by those registered offenders; their nuisance to the agency is moving and not telling police the new address, Thomas said.

It remains up to neighborhoods to operate their own alerts by the traditional Telephone Tree, or the newer email blasts, or Twitter. Forbidden Hillcrest is the most famous in operation today, and it has achieved a lot of timely alerts to its subscribers.

Thomas did outline plans to add 50 cameras overlooking public intersections and areas, and said he welcomed citizen suggestions on locations. Send an address for a camera to Thomas at:

SThomas@littlerock.org

The department is updating its website, and the upgrade will enable to visitor to contact the department by email, and submit a question or suggestion – like where to put a camera.

Stodola noted these will be mobile, and officials expect to move them around the city, to oversee problem areas, and deter criminals.

In other business, Treas. Karen Walls sent a report of a balance on hand totaling $355.87.

Dan Scott of NLR city government attended and complimented the Coalition for its citizen action over the decades. He said his bosses were interested in fostering closer citizen/city links, and would study what the Coalition does, to use its work as a model.

The group planned to take the next step at the Sat Feb. 9 session by inviting legislators to attend and discuss remedies from the state budget for parole officer positions, and the prison budget. The Coalition will also research felon in possession of a firearm cases and outcomes.

Creative Corridor: Main Street Revitalization Presentation

Creative Corridor

Neighborhood Challenge – LOVE YOUR BLOCK Grant

PETTAWAY RESIDENT IDEAS DUE:  Monday, May 14, 2012
GRANT SUBMISSION DUE:  Friday, May 25, 2012
COMPETITIVE GRANT AWARD: $1000
Note: PETTAWAY RESIDENTS SUBMIT IDEAS TO MAGGIE HAWKINS, Facilitator, 500 East 21st. Street (East Broadway Alert Center – (501.376.3406) mhawkins@littlerock.org or KWADJO BOAITEY, Pettaway Neighborhood Association Secretary, kwadjoboaitey@gmail.com (NO LATER THAN MONDAY, MAY 14, 2012)

LOVE YOUR BLOCK GRANT SUMMARY:

Message from the Mayor

Love Your Block 

I’m happy to announce a competitive grant program called Love Your Block that is designed to help Neighborhood-Based Organizations (NBOs) meet their most pressing challenges through community service and focused City Services.  The purpose of the Program is to promote and increase volunteerism in the city while partnering with city staff to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

Thanks to a generous $10,000 grant from the Home Depot Foundation, $19,000 in City of Little Rock funds and a combined $6,000 from Central Arkansas Planning and Development District as recommended by state Representatives John Edwards and John Walker, the City anticipates awarding thirty-five (35) $1,000 grants (Five (5) $1,000 grants in each Ward) Any neighborhood-based organization (NBO) registered with the City is eligible to apply.  The objective of the Neighborhood Challenge-Love Your Block Grant Program is to encourage projects that promote volunteerism, foster civic pride, enhance and beautify neighborhoods, or encourage improvements in the way residents connect and solve problems. With this launch, the City of Little Rock joins 10 cities nationwide in implementing the Cities of Service Love Your Block blueprint, which helps revitalize neighborhoods one block at a time.

Yesterday, we announced the  launch of the grant program at a news conference held at Woodruff Community Garden located at 7th and Brown streets.  Neighborhood Based Organizations (NBO’s) are invited to apply for the grants by registering with the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Programs (call Andre Bernard at 371-4855) and completing a grant application.  Grant applications are available at the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Programs.  All grants are due by 5:00pm on May 25, 2012.

The Love Your Block grants must meet the following requirements to be considered for funding:

  • Organizations must be registered with the City of Little Rock Department of Housing and Neighborhood Programs;
  • Proposers must operate as a not-for-a-profit organization in nature and their Projects will not exclude the general public from use, if applicable;
  • Proposals must demonstrate lasting and/or a direct benefit to the neighborhood;
  • If awarded, organizations must maintain records reflecting program expenditures, number of volunteers taking part in the Project and in-kind contributions.  These records are to be made available to the City in the Final Report;
  • Grant recipients will hold the City harmless of all claims of every kind and character that may arise out of, or are in any way connected to, the project;
  • Grant recipients are considered independent contractors and not as agents of the City; and
  • Proposed projects must be within the established, recognized and registered boundaries of the organization submitting the Proposal.  (Requests for an exception to this requirement will be considered on a case-by-case basis).

To be selected, successful grant proposals must have a detailed and realistic Project Plan for engaging residents to carry out a physical transformation of the public spaces on their block.  Specifically, each NBO must:

  • Operate on a not-for-a-profit basis.  For purpose of this Neighborhood Challenge-Love Your Block Grant Program, an organization operating on a not-for-a-profit basis is defined as a corporation, group, or association that exists for charitable and/or public purposes without a profit motive or shareholders;
  • Demonstrate the ability to mobilize a minimum of 20 neighborhood volunteers to take part in the revitalization of their block;
  • Include one of more block beautification event(s) in its/their action plan to occur between June 15 and September 30, 2012;
  • Send two main contact representatives to a grant orientation workshop where they will meet with staff from the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Programs, Little Rock Serves and select City agencies;
  • Include before and after digital photos of improvements;
  • Please respond to all questions found in the grant application, following the same order as the application.  All applications must be dated and titled “2012 Neighborhood Challenge-Love Your Block Grant Program”.

Also consider submitting  projects that can receive priority consideration:

  • blocks within a 500 foot radius of an elementary, middle or high school (this should be noted in the grant application);
  • projects that address one or more vacant lots; and,
  • projects that benefit a business district.

Love Your Block Basics

Little Rock was chosen as one of twenty cities nationwide as a Cities of Service Leadership City in 2010 by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Rockefeller Foundation.  The idea behind Cities of Service is to address pressing community needs with targeted and focused citizen service.   This approach is designed to help cities identify and implement high-impact service strategies that address pressing local challenges in education and youth, health, neighborhood revitalization, environmental sustainability, and other areas.

These strategies are developed with the help of experts and turned into actionable “blueprints” that are being implemented in cities across the country with the help of local and national funders such as The Home Depot Foundation and others. 

Love Your Block is a tested, high- impact service strategy in which the City engages community members in revitalizing their neighborhoods one block at a time.

There are four basic components to Love Your Block:

1. Cities raise money to provide small grants to community groups for supplies and coordinates with city agencies to identify a menu of targeted city services that can supplement volunteer efforts at the neighborhood level.

2. Cities publicize a grants competition soliciting proposals from community groups. Proposals must include a description of the challenges on the block and a preliminary work plan and basic budget that articulates how the grant would be used to address those challenges with volunteers.

3. Cities award grants to community groups and coordinate city services as requested by the grantees to support the local volunteer effort.

4. Cities will also track and report impact metrics for each project. Required metrics include:

a. Number of blocks (or other geographic unit, i.e., lots or neigh­borhoods) revitalized, AND at least two of the following:

i. Square feet of graffiti removed;

ii. Pounds of litter collected;

iii. Number of trees planted; and

iv. Number of green spaces or community gardens created.

So, get together with your neighbors and come up with a plan to revitalize a block by:

improving a park or a vacant lot; create a community garden; provide for streetscape improvements including planting trees or flowers; build a footbridge across a park pond; upgrade playground equipment; landscape a neighborhood park or common area; replace roofs on community buildings and storage facilities; build sprinkler systems for parks and flower beds; create entry signs into neighborhoods; create and install public art such as a mosaic murals; install house numbers; purchase tools, mowers, weed eaters and landscaping equipment to set up a tool-loan inventory; build storage sheds for neighborhood equipment; publish and distribute newsletters, flyers, brochures, etc.; purchase equipment for crime watch programs; launch litter control activities and equipment; purchase park benches and grills.  Remember:  All grant applications must be in the hands of the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Programs by 5:00 PM May 25, 2012. 

I would like to ask you to forward this email to the people in your address book who may also want to know this information. They may sign up to receive future Messages from the Mayor by following the link below. If you wish to have your address deleted from future emails please follow the link below and click the “unsubscribe” button. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Mark Stodola

Mayor

Job Corps building secured, but LR neighbors still irked

Job Corps Building

The following article appeared in today’s Arkansas Democrat Gazette regarding the Job Corps building.

Here’s an excerpt from the article.

Job Corps building secured, but neighbors still irked, by Claudia Lauer

The owners of the former Job Corps building on Vance Street in little Rock boarded up and secured the windows and doors over the weekend, delaying a request from neighbors to tear down the structure they call an unsafe eyesore.

City Manager Bruce Moore said during a city directors meeting Tuesday that representatives of owner Remi Enterprises Inc. of San Antonio, have talked about turning the building into an apartment complex, but have not submitted formal plans for approval.  The group bought the building from the General Services Administration in 2010 for about $850,000.

The Pettaway Park Neighborhood Association met last month to discuss the eight story building that was once in line to become a day resource center for the homeless.  The association made an official request that the city move forward with tearing it down because of safety concerns with borken windows and asbestos.

Mayor Mark Stodola asked code enforcement officials to request that the owners clean up the parking areas and landscaping around the building to make it more presentable for neighbors.  He also requested information on the plan to turn the building into an apartment complex and the procedure for possibly seeking a condemnation in the future.

“I’ve asked for estimates on demolition costs.  The city has never demolished a building of this size,” he said.  “I’ve also asked that we be updated on the progeress and to see the conceptual framework for their plan.”

Ward 1 City Director Erma Hendrix said she was not satisfied with the board’s response to complaints about the building,  (Click here to read the rest of this article)

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