But Tom Maggio
says that Neighborhood Watch volunteers also need something else: lessons on policies and plans to keep neighborhoods intact and to rebuild those in decline.
As Tim Hahn reported on Nov. 28, Maggio
shared his knowledge with citizens who serve as Neighborhood Watch captains in a five-week course, "City Planning 101," at Mercyhurst College
Maggio, 45, is chairman of the Erie Neighborhood Watch Council, which helps Neighborhood Watch groups form and assists existing groups with grants and speakers.
The council's website lists 65 participating watch groups.
Some names telegraph the groups' intent: the Area 13 Snoops, the Hammermill Hounds and the Seewolves fit that description.
Other names, such as Baldwin Park
, Kellogg Street
and Perry School Area
, connote location.
The Sigsbee Street Reservoir Dogs Watch group has a name that incorporates geography and mission.
To be effective, such groups must deter crime, but also concentrate on making their neighborhoods attractive for residents and businesses.
According to Maggio, you need a plan to reach those goals, something he stressed when he worked as a project manager for the Erie Redevelopment Authority, which has worked to revitalize Parade Street and Little Italy, among other areas.
Now a freelance grant writer, Maggio has also explained some challenges that government faces in working on neighborhood revitalization, such as the fact that Erie doesn't "quite have a city planning department like other cities do," as he said in May when the City Planning class was announced.
Students in the first class learned about zoning, architecture, housing transportation, economics, retail businesses and urban policy and politics.
Students also talked about names for their neighborhoods, and Maggio
suggested they visit Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh where grass-roots efforts have sparked neighborhood revitalization.