STEUBENVILLE - Approximately two dozen residents from Lawson Estates asked City Council Tuesday night for answers about what is being done to stop violence that touched their neighborhood and lives earlier this month.
"We are a group of neighbors who live on the hilltop who have a lot of pride in our neighborhood. But our pride has been shot down. We are very upset, bitter and tired of the crime and violence in our community. We are here to ask what we can do to help take back our neighborhood," stated Susan Haney.
"There was a shooting at the intersection of Eve Drive and Orchard Street early this month, and four houses on Moreland Drive were hit. Not one of us got a knock on the door asking us if we were safe. We have children who live in our neighborhood. What can we do to secure our neighborhood? We are educated and professional people. We pay our taxes, and we want to be protected," Haney continued.
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS — Mike Johnson, a Lawson Estates resident, urged Steubenville Council members Tuesday night to work on a comprehensive plan to stop violence in the city. Johnson was one of several Lawson Estates residents to speak about a recent shooting near their neighborhood.
-- Dave Gossett
One man was arrested and two more men have been identified, as suspects in the July 2 shooting that involved one man firing an assault weapon on Orchard Street.
"That shooting happened between 3:30 and 4 in the afternoon. I have a 10-year-old and a 5-year-old who were outside playing. The fact that shooting happened in the middle of the afternoon is appalling. We are no longer afraid. We are mad. And we want our neighborhood back," said Amy Mihalyo.
"My house had a bullet in the sun room where my niece and nephew like to play. We never had a problem in Lawson Estates before. I want to know what we can do to prevent this from happening in our city and our community," Rikki Kamarados told council members.
"You need to develop a comprehensive plan. East Lansing, Mich., has legislation that limits the number of rental properties in each area of their city," explained Mike Johnson, who also asked for enforcement of a teen curfew and tougher local gun laws.
"I also believe the police department is undermanned. We are willing to work with you on a comprehensive plan for the whole city," added Johnson.
"These thugs are not wanted in our community," said Mayor Domenick Mucci. "When you arrived here tonight this council was in an executive session with the police chief talking about putting a plan in place on how we can improve our coverage of the city. And that plan will take a concerted effort of all citizens. We will continue to look at the police department staffing. We know it is not getting better. And we are sensitive to violence in the community. The city administration and City Council are very sensitive to the violence.
"Our city manager is on vacation but when she returns to work Monday I promise I will sit down with her and tell her about your concerns. Together we can work on a plan.
"We will not allow thugs to take over our streets," noted Mucci.
First Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto urged the residents to attend the Jefferson County Landlord Association meetings.
"The murders and drug dealers are from out of town, and we need to send them back out of town," DiLoreto said.
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs said after the meeting it is time for everyone in the city "to get mad."
"These issues are not limited to just one neighborhood.
"The issues are across the entire city. People need to get angry before violence touches their neighborhood. We need to stop the violence," said Suggs.
In other matters during the Tuesday night meeting, council approved an ordinance authorizing the city manager to advertise for professional engineering services for the next phase of the Lovers Lane improvement project.
The ordinance had three separate readings before the final approval.
"We anticipate hiring a design engineer by November. The actual design work will take place in 2013 and 2014, and we expect to see actual work starting in 2015," City Engineer Michael Dolak explained.
Emergency legislation setting the appropriations for the remainder of the years as well as a revenue tax budget for the rest of 2012 were tabled and sent back to the finance committee to wait for clarification from City Manager Cathy Davison, who was not at the council session.
A second reading was heard for an ordinance expanding the Steel Valley Regional Transit Authority to include the village of Wintersville.
Council also heard a second reading for legislation directing the city finance director to rename the FEMA Fund the Emergency Management Fund.
And a first reading was heard for a change in the employee table of organization.
Approved emergency legislation accepting a sanitary sewer easement from CVS Pharmacy.
Agreed to approve submission of the city's one-year action plan for the 2012 Community Development Block Grant Funds.
During an Economic Development Committee meeting held prior to the regular meeting, members indicated they were not interested in leasing office space in the City Hall building to Progress Alliance.
"I am not in favor of renting space in our building to any outside entity. That would mean more people with access to the building," said 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins.
DiLoreto called for the fire chief to move to one of the city's three fire stations.
"The police chief is moving back to the old city building to be closer to his men, and I think the fire chief should do the same," said DiLoreto.
Sixth Ward Councilman David Lalich, who chairs the economic development committee, said he will schedule a committee meeting in the future to discuss DiLoreto's proposal.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)