Safety runs much deeper than the availability of police and the accessibility to emergency services. Safety combines both of these practices, as well as many physical features in an environment.
While drugs and weapons more obviously reflect a less-patrolled area, broken glass, couches on front lawns, unlocked doors, loud music and red cups also constitute an unsafe atmosphere.
Do these elements paint a familiar picture?
Richard Avenue. The legendary street, frequented by freshmen, colored with red cups, blue and silver cans, shattered gray glass, and brown destroyed couches. This rainbow does not have a pot of gold at the end, but rather creates a recipe for disaster.
Conveniently located right off campus, students migrate from their dorms to drink with other students. The walk is too short to turn down as the block floods with students from Thursday to Sunday.
When the weather heats up, weekends are reserved for “daydrinkers” and the street experiences several rounds of people coming through.
With warm weather and the stress of classes and exams, students are motivated to fill their free time with one drink, or 10. More drinking inevitably leads to more reckless behavior.
Reckless behavior including slashing tires and breaking car mirrors.
All but four of the 36 properties positioned on Richard Avenue are rented by college students. The street has not recently received a negative reputation, but has been notorious for being “the party street” for years.
As college students look for new places to gather and various organizations form, the area formerly known as “Frat Row” was once a boiling hot spot for gatherers.
“The problem isn’t increasing, it’s just shifting locations,” Supervisor Chairman Steve Oldt explained in an Aug. 6 supervisors meeting, with township solicitor Jim Robinson.
The officials met in the summer of 2011, to discuss potential remedies to help alleviate the recurring issues with several Richard Avenue residents.
The burning of a couch during the summer prompted officials to meet and discuss potential solutions to better patrolling the area.
The local newspaper, The Sentinel, reported last summer that as well as a montiored curfew, surveillance cameras and the possibility of additional police patrolling from neighboring law enforcement agencies would be asked to assist in controlling the street.
It appears that none of these improvements have been placed.
“We’re all interested in making Richard Avenue as safe and livable as possible,” Oldt added in the same meeting last summer. “It may take time and it may or may not be cost effective, but we’re trying to do things to get a grasp on the problem.”
It appears that Oldt was for improving the conditions of Richard Avenue, both the sanitary conditions and the physical appearance, as well as focusing on the safety hazards presented on the street.
Oldt reasoned with officials the possibility of students spray-painting the cameras if they were to be placed to monitor the area, as well as the legal issue involved with citing a resident just from evidence presented by the surveillance camera.
Though Oldt claimed these were factors to consider, he did not suggest any saftey additions that successfully could be installed. More police and involving more departments remind students of the police attendance.
Surely it is a difficult matter to dissect, but what about our students?
What about the students who are not initiating fights or abusive behavior and are rather hanging out on the avenue to be with their friends and socialize?
While officials have failed to properly install methods of surveillance or have not clearly minimized the amount of hazardous crime, the students need to play their role.
Richard Avenue is a two-way street.
If the students threw beer cans into garbage cans and found less enjoyment out of burning furniture, the avenue may one day become an acceptable place to live. However, that is through the mind of a positive thinker.
Who is to say that the block has not become too damaged that there is no point of return?
It is the red cups, trash in the streets and the front-lawn couches that encourage an unsafe environment.
At what point will police give up and stop patrolling the avenue? Is it through our own negligence or desire to clean the street that more crime is piling on top of the mess and police are beginning to consider it a lost cause?