Stevenswood residents attempt to fence out vandalism and litter Barrier separates houses from nearby apartments

June 03, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Residents of the Stevenswood community near Liberty Road have erected a chain-link fence to limit access from two nearby apartment complexes they see as the source of crime and littering problems, but quickly experienced another problem.

Within five hours, part of the fence blocking a path between the communities had been disassembled and thrown into a stream.

"It's ridiculous," said Ella White Campbell, president of the Stevenswood Improvement Association, which is contemplating legal action against the management of one complex. "As fast as we put something up, it gets torn down."

Residents of the 250-home enclave of Stevenswood say there is constant vandalism and littering in their neighborhood, and they have found drug paraphernalia and trash tossed into the tiny stream separating homes on Stevenswood Road from the Liberty Crossing and Savoy East apartments.

Using a county grant, the Stevenswood organization spent about $3,300 to erect the 60-foot-long fence in the middle of the stream -- blocking a path that was a popular shortcut for children walking from the apartments to Winfield Elementary School.

Campbell said outsiders -- and in many cases children -- appear to be responsible for incidents in which cars and houses have been broken into, flowers trampled, newspapers stolen and a community message board near the grounds of Northwest Hospital Center damaged and adorned with graffiti.

At a meeting last week after their fence was damaged, members of the community association voted unanimously to look into taking legal action against the management of Liberty Crossing on security and nuisance-abatement issues.

But Darlene Tuck, who has lived in Liberty Crossing for five years, said she believes that many of the "outsiders" being blamed for problems are not residents of the apartments, either. "They will come and commit crimes and run into Liberty Crossing because it's very hard to get caught here," she said.

Police Lt. John Spiroff of the Woodlawn Precinct said officers have increased their presence in the area and encouraged residents to report suspicious activity.

"You've got two different types of communities, with the renters in the complexes and the homeowners in Stevenswood," Spiroff said. "There is a more transient community in the apartments, with people coming and going, and I'm sure the residents in the surrounding area are concerned about that."

Spiroff said that while most of the residents in the complexes are law-abiding, officers have handled numerous calls regarding violence, juvenile mischief, property damage, robbery and drug dealing. Management for the two complexes has been working with police to help alleviate the problem, he said.

"There are a lot of good people who live there, but they are afraid," Spiroff said. "We are trying to stabilize the area and reduce that fear."

In response to complaints about crime, County Council Chairman Kevin Kamenetz recently required developers planning to overhaul Savoy East to agree to build a security fence in exchange for a resolution of support for a state loan. Kamenetz said he hopes to work with the entire community to improve the relationship between the homeowners and tenants.

"I'm disturbed by this, and it suggests that we need to bring representatives from each group together and try to work it out," said Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Randallstown Democrat.

A manager on duty at Savoy East declined to comment, and the management of Liberty Crossing could not be reached.

Pub Date: 6/03/96

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