HotSpot anti-crime program cuts ribbon at Cherry Hill office Police, community leaders hope presence in complex will help to stabilize area

November 24, 1998|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

Opening yet another community improvement project in one of the city's most ambitious neighborhoods, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke came to Cherry Hill last night to cut the ribbon on a local office for a state anti-crime program.

The office at 2394 Seamon Ave. is home to the neighborhood's HotSpot team, which includes a prosecutor, three police officers, four parole agents and a community organizer.

The office will be host to the community group Cherry Hill 2000 and after-school programs and childrearing classes.

Community leaders and police said they hope the new office in a housing complex that has suffered from drug-related crime will help to stabilize the northern side of Cherry Hill. That area is critical to the redevelopment of the neighborhood, whose 11,034 residents have a median income is $12,205.

Within two blocks of the new office are two of the other projects designed by local residents to attract homeowners to South Baltimore's largest African-American neighborhood: the 2-month-old Southside Academy magnet high school and the Cherry Hill shopping center, which is nearly completed.

"No place in the state of Maryland has been more aggressive in making itself well than Cherry Hill," said Del. Timothy D. Murphy, a 47th District Democrat, at last night's ceremony.

The official opening of the office comes one year after the launch of the HotSpot Communities Initiative in Cherry Hill, one of six areas in Baltimore targeted by the anti-crime program. Space for the office was donated by Maryland Management Corp., a real estate firm with close political ties to, among others, 6th District Councilman and Cherry Hill resident Melvin L. Stukes.

Last night, police credited HotSpot, which has brought $200,000 to Cherry Hill, with reducing violent crime by breaking up the Veronica Avenue Boys gang and reviving a citizen patrol in the Cherrydale Apartment complex. State officials also reported progress in Operation Spotlight, which has teams of police and probation officers make nighttime visits to the homes of high-risk offenders.

The ceremony included an African libation ceremony during which the 50 or so residents and public officials gathered outside 2394 Seamon Ave. yelled out the names of their ancestors.

"Arnett J. Brown," said Schmoke, calling the name of the outspoken principal for whom Cherry Hill's middle school is named.

"Robert F. Kennedy," said Townsend, reciting the name of her father.

Pub Date: 11/24/98

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