City council to consider improvement plans for once-troubled CR - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

City council to consider improvement plans for once-troubled CR neighborhood

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

Safety has never been a concern of Justin Wasson's, even after gun shots were fired this summer within six blocks of his house.

"The few problems that we do have, often overshadow the positive things that happen here," Wasson said.

Wasson, who serves as the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association's president, says the neighborhood continues to battle a violent reputation.

He believes the violence is actually diminishing.  He says the focus should be on making long overdue physical improvements to the area.

"Some of the blocks have no lights, let alone updated lighting," Wasson said.

Tuesday the Cedar Rapids city council is expected to approve a neighborhood plan that will serve as a guide for change over the next ten to 15 years.  The hope is private investment follows.

"It's looking at the streets. It's looking at the parks. It's looking at the connectivity. It's looking at the traffic, and all of the pieces of the puzzle that should make the other decisions easier," said council member Pat Shey.

Wellington Heights is already benefiting from large scale investments in the neighborhood.

As part of its Total Child Initiative, Four Oaks is working with Affordable Housing Network Inc. to turn run down rental properties into attractive single family ownership opportunities.

It's part of a multi-million dollar effort that's transforming the core of the neighborhood.

"We're trying to put families back in there that really have an investment in the neighborhood and so they live here, they raise their family here, they get to know each other, and they make this neighborhood stronger," said Joe Lock, executive director of the Affordable Housing Network, Inc.

The city has also passed an ordinance creating stricter standards for landlords.

The hope is these efforts combined with new direction going forward can help make the once-troubled neighborhood, a more attractive place to live.

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