Community Meeting To Improve Highland Crest Neighborhood

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Topeka's Highland Crest neighborhood is raising its community from the ground up. They're planning on doing several things to improve the area.

More than a hundred people gathered at Avondale East Elementary for a community meal and meeting, to strengthen neighborly ties.

For years, people have talked about transforming the Highland Crest community into a place its residents are proud to call home.

Nellie Hogan has been present and active in the neighborhood for more than 30 years. "If we had stronger codes - the cleaning up, the straightening up, the building up, the repairing of homes codes - it would be helpful," she said.

The HiCrest neighborhood association joined with the NET-REACH program for a community session.

"Our key partnerships are really with the citizens that live in our community. It's that partnership and that trust between law enforcement and the community that's going to help make Topeka a safer place," said District Attorney Chad Taylor.

Taylor stopped by and gave tips on how they could avoid crime.

Highland Crest has one of the highest crime rates in the city.

Hogan said that people need things to do. "If we get this community center in this school with things going on for both adults and children, that will help greatly," Hogan said.

The building already houses a number of community events, and there are a list of programs scheduled for the summer, such as a reading program and two summer camps for kids in first through eighth grades.

The community feel of the meeting is what NET-REACH and the neighborhood association want, so people are comfortable speaking up on what they need.

Sally Zellers said getting people out and meeting one another is important in establishing a true sense of community. "If we can focus on this neighborhood and figure out what they need, then it can be replicated in other areas of our city," she said. "So we're here tonight to eat with people, find out how they're doing, what their needs are. And then we'll be looking at bringing specific things to help them."

NET-REACH and other community advocates already have a couple ideas for programs to bring into Avondale East which will be available to residents. They are considering daycare, auto-repair classes, food pantries, a used-clothing closet and more.

Zellers said they have to wait and gauge what the residents response is before they implement any programs.

The community is confident it is a step toward transformation.