If no one steps up to the plate to take over solicitation of food sponsors, meetings could become all business
Anyone who attended the Oak Lawn Apartment Managers and Stakeholders monthly meetings in the past just for the free lunch could be in for a shock this year.
Linda White, one of about four volunteers planning to coordinate this year’s meetings, said the crime watch group is headed for some changes in the wake of longtime crime watch leader P.D. Sterling’s move to New York late last year.
“It’s quite a headache to scramble to find someone to provide lunch,” White said. “The group is going to need to be reformulated. I don’t think at this point there is going to be one person in charge like P.D. was.”
Sterling coordinated the meetings for years, arranging for sponsors such as Kroger’s to donate lunch to the group in addition to his other services. He sent out e-mails announcing the meetings and follow-up e-mails detailing what had transpired.
“No one has stepped forward and said, “‘I will do this.,’” White said. “There have been three or four of us who have said, “‘We will share. Nobody wants to take it on full-time.”
As a result, the Jan. 17 meeting at the Oak Lawn Branch of the Dallas Public Library at noon will not feature the traditional lunch, White said. The format of future meetings will be the primary topic of discussion at the year’s first meeting, she said.
“I think at this point, unfortunately, we have more questions than answers,” White said. “If someone is coming just for the free lunch, what’s the point?”
White said the group must also decide if it wants to focus on the part of Oak Lawn that is served by the Northwest Division of the Dallas Police Department, which includes the entertainment and business district, or to also include the area that is served by the Central Division, which is primarily the Uptown neighborhood of Oak Lawn.
White said that initially the crime watch group leaders were concerned that they had lost their open line of communication with the police department when Northwest took over much of Central’s jurisdiction late last year, but that appears to have been resolved at the December meeting.
“I think that we are well on our way to resolving it,” White said.
White said that Steve Fuentes, the Northwest police officer serving as a liaison between the community and the police department, had impressed crime watch leaders.
“He’s very enthusiastic,” White said. “He’s very excited. I think he will be a big help in getting everything rolling.”
Fuentes could not be reached for an interview but in a voice mail message he said, “There are many positive things happening in the community.”
The Cedar Springs Merchants Association, which includes representatives of nightclubs and restaurants on the street, launched an effort recently to bring more foot traffic back to the strip.
White said her group would need to have one person to serve as the liaison with the police, and that person would likely be another longtime crime watch leader, Nancy Weinberger.
“Most likely it will be Nancy who keeps in touch with the police and various entities,” White said. “She’s been doing that for a long time anyway.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 4, 2008