I moved to a South Park in 1986 that was very different from the South Park I live in today. Then, about 70% of the neighborhood was rentals- much of it owned by people who lived outside of the neighborhood. Now that number is reversed- about 70% of the neighborhood is owned by residents.
Thursday night, while I was playing ice hockey in Kettering (a community that believes in investing in recreation opportunities for its residents) my tenant came home about a half hour before me. She saw three young men, who looked like UD students walking along our street, from the direction of my office, past her house. Two were white, one was black, all looked to be in their early twenties. She said UD students because at least one of them was wearing a UD sweatshirt.
She got out of her car, and said hello. They then told her that they were going to take her purse. She thought it was a joke and told them they weren’t. A gun was produced- they then told her that it was her purse or they’d kill her- and one of the white guys then hit her on the head with the gun- and off they went with the purse. Contents- $40 and her id and credit cards.
Luckily, she had her phone and keys still in the car. She called 911- the cops were here fast. She had nothing but great things to say about the police- who wanted her to take an ambulance to Miami Valley Hospital a few blocks away. Instead, she had her wits and called a friend to drive her- because she didn’t want to be liable for a $1000 city billed ambulance taxi trip (her guess on how much she would be billed). That was pretty smart thinking- especially since when she got to the hospital and asked her her birthday- she drew a blank. Concussion. Also a wrist injury.
My parents were awake next door and sitting less than 20 feet away. They heard nothing. When I got home from hockey, I distinctly remember thinking as I parked my car (which I share with my parents) in front of their house- how quiet the street was as I hauled my gear into the house. Had I been coming home a half hour earlier- I would have possibly stopped this mugging.
I started to learn about this through our private neighborhood security group on Facebook midday on Friday. At around 2, my tenant texted me and told me it was her- to warn my family (I have a girl friend and her two young, 9 and 13 year old, daughters living with me). My girlfriend often has walked this street at that hour, alone- feeling safe.
This “mugging” – or more properly, armed robbery with felonious assault, is seriously damaging the confidence of a lot of neighbors. Tonight, we’ll be out patrolling our streets (again, the last time was after a rash of burglaries- of which I was a victim on more than one occasion about a year ago). There is talk about offering a bounty for information leading to an arrest. And, I’m sure there will be a few single women and young families reconsidering our neighborhood.
My tenant refused to talk to the TV news truck that showed up last night. There was no mention of this in today’s Dayton Daily News. There was a long story about the huge loss of residents within an arbitrary 2 mile radius of Downtown- while the numbers within an arbitrary one mile radius weren’t bad at all- showing the papers rush to glorify the bad news instead of the good.
They quote an “urban planner” at WSU on the causes of the losses- which according to him are because of the dilapidated and age of the housing stock. I blame a city that has focused on “economic development” instead of “social capital” support- a city that has invested tax dollars in things like the Arcade, the Arcade tower, and buying real estate- instead of investing in parks, recreation, schools and public safety. Jobs and investment come to communities where people feel safe- in investing and to get out of their car at 11:30 at night and walk 10 feet to their front door.
Under reported – is that the City, while claiming being broke and having the police staffing at all time lows, has now distributed the burglary unit to the districts. Yet, they just spent $450K each on two buildings in the area around the Cannery- first with the 601 E. First building that was at one time owned by Bill Kuntz (who sued the city and won over 20 years ago about the forceful taking of his business and building for the arcade development) and now- the former Supply One/HD Supply building on Wayne next to Garden Station. That’s $900K- which buys a lot of police on the streets.
This “mugging” may seem like a petty crime, but when you understand that our entire civilization is based on confidence, and that personal safety is a foundation of human needs as based on Maslow’s research, you get a better understanding of why Dayton has been perceived as being in decline for years.
The neighborhood has changed for the better since 1986, and I’ll make sure that this event won’t become a pivotal point in a return to the way it was. The real question is will our leaders wake up and stop buying bricks and mortar and start buying hearts and minds. When we pay our taxes, we’re supposed to be buying civilization.