Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Neighborhoods Watch for 'Tipping Point'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Neighborhoods Watch for 'Tipping Point'

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Staff writer

Vickie Kutscher doesn't want her Englewood neighborhood to tip into the danger zone.

So she's meeting every week with about 40 volunteers to discuss Jacksonville neighborhoods on the tipping point. Their objective is to identify warning signs and develop plans to keep them from deteriorating.

It's part of Jacksonville Community Council Inc.'s latest study titled "Neighborhoods at the Tipping Point."

Volunteers began meeting in October and will continue through April. Then they will write their conclusions and issue a final report in the spring.

The subject was chosen because the city has a initiative called the Mayor's Intensive Care Neighborhood Program that targets long-neglected areas for extra funds and rehabilitation, said Laura Lane, JCCI staff coordinator for the study.

"But the volunteers felt there were neighborhoods that were close to decline that may not be on the radar screen," Lane said. "And they felt the city would be better off if these neighborhoods that aren't entirely healthy and aren't entirely struggling were given some attention."

The city has been successful in cleaning up the infamous prostitution trade at Philips Highway and Emerson Street, said Kutscher, president of the Greater Englewood Neighborhood Association. But drugs, prostitution and other problems have migrated to some nearby residential areas, she said.

"We are beginning to see some changes that we don't like in our neighborhood," Kutscher said. "That's why I see Englewood as a neighborhood on the tipping point. We're trying to fight the negative and push the positive, and we hope this study will help us do that."

Participants include University of North Florida nursing students, non-profit groups, city Neighborhoods Department staff, community leaders and other interested residents. They've been listening to presentations from experts and analyzing research.

"It's a great way of brainstorming for possible solutions for all of Jacksonville, not just Englewood," Kutscher said. …

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