Dan Lawlor: Time to Step Up for the Valley Neighborhood
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
The violence in Valley is costing the neighborhood opportunities to grow.
An artist friend of mine who recently relocated wrote "In the end, I moved away for a location closer to the center of town that seemed safer. The multiple break ins in to cars and apartments near by during the year I lived in the Valley neighboorhood did not lend to making a comfortable home, but I do miss my large apartment with lots of storage and ample parking."
Timmy Murphy, a cook and long time resident, said, after another night of police breaking up fights, "It's the season for violence. There's too much hate. I feel like walking around with a mirror, so people have to look at themselves and think before they start something."
An anonymous homeowner, Latina, living off Academy Ave since 2000, has mentioned, “During the day the streets are safe. Davis Park is nice. The thing is, it's after 8pm, especially on weekends, that Valley St is not too safe. When we first moved here, then, it was just noisy at night. Now there are shootings. Sometimes cars race down Regent Ave. We need some more activity for kids. On Chalkstone Ave, it's this change that we've seen lately. You can hear people screaming. We definitely need more cops around. "
Thankfully, it's not all doom and gloom.
One of the best restaurants in the city, Valley's own Los Andes, has been attracting people from all over, neighborhood couples, business types and politicos. It's just up the block from Gilligan's Pub and Tommy's Pizza, and adjacent to Roger Williams Hospital.
Community people are mobilizing. When a local store owner was found stealing money from customers, a group of residents organized together at their local parish, Blessed Sacrament Church, to brainstorm ways to mobilize and inform the community.
The famous "Providence Needs A Taxpayer Revolt!" signs can be found in the neighborhood, as can a ridiculous amount of graffiti on Chalkstone Ave. businesses, between River and Academy.
The homeowner reflected, "This summer has been the worst. There was a shooting the other night near Wealth St. Just the other evening, around 11pm, I saw four cop cars pull down the street. I've been here for years, and I've never heard of this before."
Bergen St, named after the second largest city in Norway, has been a site of several stabbings and shooting over the past few years. Several homes have gone into foreclosure, and a few are still boarded up.Regent St. Park, nicknamed by some old timers as Needlepoint Park for its history of drug dealing, has had a bit of a renaissance. It could still use some more support.
Side streets near Valley- River, Grosvenor, Health, Harold - have had stabbings, shootings, fights and robberies. An elderly woman who used to know all her neighbors now hurries to lock her doors, and even refuses to put her air conditioner in the window for fear someone will break in.
Valley neighborhood is suffering from what Boston Principal Rashuan Martin has called an “opportunity gap.” Other neighborhoods in the city have great organizations like New Urban Arts, City Arts, Community Music Works, English for Action, the Community Gardens, and the Sports Leagues. The Steel Yard borders Valley, but isn't exclusively geared toward neighborhood youth or families. Those community groups provide opportunities and spaces for community members to choose to engage with each other, gain skills, and build change.
At the center of Valley, on Chalkstone, there is a large brick building, once a movie theater. Some of its windows are cracked, its side wall has graffiti on it - reading "Die" - and the building is empty. It could be a perfect space for one of the city's excellent non-profits to open a satellite space.
My artist friend writes, "Now I live on the East Side, and while I enjoy walking around my Fox Point neighborhood, I miss the feeling of being around lots of families. In Valley, there were always kids running around their driveways or walking to the bus stop. It is definitely a place where people seemed settled unlike the ever changing Fox Point population."
For Valley to stay a settled neighborhood it needs support.
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