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Land Bank to start Crime Prevention Program

Constructing an environment to create safer neighborhoods is the next task eyed by the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp.

Earlier this month, the land bank board discussed it’s newest initiative — Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. Gina Paradis, land bank executive director, said the program teaches homeowners landscaping measures like creating clear sitelines, how to strategically place bushes to prevent them from being used as hiding places for criminals and other common sense ideas to prevent crime.

Paradis said three law enforcement officers — two from the county Sheriff’s Office and one from the Jamestown Police Department – along with a health planner will be getting certified in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, which will then lead to demonstration projects where grassroots organizations and church groups can learn about the basics to preventing crime around the home.

Paradis said the certification program will conclude in the late summer and a pilot program might be started this fall.

Last year, Paradis told The Post-Journal the land bank’s Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design program will be modeled after one started in Flint, Mich., by Kettering University.

“They had done a similar program so I modeled my proposal after theirs,” she said last July. “They recently published a five-year report so I shared that with the board so they could better understand how the program works.”

In other business:

¯ The land bank is almost halfway through its new program Hands On Neighborhoods, which have been collaborative cleanup efforts in the city of Jamestown. Paradis said the program has been well-received through the first three cleanup efforts, with four more planned through October.

“We’re still looking to recruit volunteers,” she said. “We want more people on board to plan and execute events.”

The new program is a collaboration of public, private and nonprofit organizations that includes the city of Jamestown, Jamestown Renaissance Corp., Jamestown Tarp Skunks, Jamestown Police and Fire departments, Jamestown Board of Public Utilities and Zion Covenant Church. Program sponsors include Lakeshore Savings Bank, the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency and Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation.

The next cleanup day will be July 17 and will be in the neighborhoods around North Main to Washington streets between 12th and 18th streets. For more information, visit chqlandbank.org/handson.

¯ The board approved a resolution to take title from the county to properties it will be acquiring through the Chautauqua County Tax Foreclosure auction that will be demolished. Paradis said the county had been holding on to the titles of the properties that will eventually be transferred to the land bank for demolition so the title wasn’t transferred multiple times before the demolition.

“The county would hold (the title) in foreclosure judgments, but wouldn’t transfer it until after the demolition is completed and the land bank would then help broker a sale to adjoining property owner,” she said. “That way we were only transferring the title once instead of three times.”

However, Paradis said county officials realized by holding on to the title longer it was continually pay taxes to local municipalities the whole time it was in the foreclosure and demolition process. She said this created a financial burden for the county.

“Going forward we will take title,” she said. “It’s less of a burden on the county and more of a burden on the land bank because once we take title we are responsible for liability and maintenance like lawn mowing. As good partners to the county, we wanted to do our part to help.”

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