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Glen Oaks takes another step towards added safety, security, beautification

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BATON ROUGE - Ms. Dorothy Thomas has lived in her Glen Oaks homes for more than 50 years. She says in recent years, part of the neighborhood have become so dangerous that she doesn't leave her house at night. 

"During the night, you're sleeping and sometimes you hear gunshots," Dorothy Thomas said. 

Monday night, a small but mighty group of Glen Oaks residents gathered for the neighborhood association meeting. The priority for the neighbors was crime prevention.

In 2023, Baton Rouge Senator Regina Barrow, who lives in Glen Oaks, passed legislation to create a crime prevention district.

If passed by district voters, residents will be individually charged $100 dollars a year for added security and safety measures, like security cameras, and beautification. Based on the population of Glen Oaks, the $100 dollars in total amounts to roughly $460 thousand dollars yearly. 

Barrow says beautification, which could mean cleaning up overgrown or demolishing blighted properties, is a key component in neighborhood safety. She says in some cases, abandoned homes are owned by people who no longer live in the state. By working with the homeowner, neighbors can still make change happen.

"They can do the work and actually find out who owns the property, talk with them about ways of how they can acquire the property, then change it," Barrow said. "Sometimes they can bring it back into commerce."

Real community change starts with grassroots neighborhood groups like the one in Glen Oaks, Barrow added. If residents are in favor of the tax, Barrow says they need to vote.

"They need to attend the meetings," she said. "They need to share what it is that they would like to see done in their community, and then rewriting the narrative for their subdivision. It does not have to be as it has been."

If voters pass the measure, it will go into place in January 2025. The funds would be available starting in 2026. Residents say they're already making plans for what they want to see in the Glen Oaks community. 

The crime district plan is expected to come up for vote in the fall of this year, although the exact date has not yet been determined.

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