Arrests, progress made in Micha Way area
By Kathryn Purcell
A neighborhood transformed: management of Micha Way properties as well as local law enforcement are reporting that progress in ridding the neighborhood of criminal elements is being made.
In the last two weeks, a total of four arrests, some involving drugs, have been made in the vicinity of Orchard Grove and neighboring road Beacon Heights, according to City of Madison Police Chief Travis Stapp.
"I've stepped up the foot patrol," Stapp said. "It's really been beneficial to the area and to us."
Stapp also reported that there were 21 calls for the area in the past month, an improvement over past months. Further, that number includes police-generated calls as well as some repeat calls from an incident in which shots were fired.
Stapp, along with Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley, went on to present some suggestions to the management, representative of the three complexes located on Micha Way- Orchard Grove, Madison Square and Madison Duplexes.
Stapp and Markley encouraged management to begin distributing numbered parking permits to residents. Management could then cross-reference parking permit numbers with the names of tenants.
"It would be something that you can walk through there and identify, 'Does this vehicle belong here? Is someone visiting?'" Stapp said.
"It's another way of you knowing how many vehicles are supposed to be there, who's supposed to be there and who's not supposed to be there," Markley said.
Management seemed receptive to the idea, especially when Markley informed them that the cost of such a system would be "relatively inexpensive" and would really just require the purchase of the decals.
Stapp also suggested more lighting throughout the Micha Way neighborhoods.
The cost of that proposition caused concern for management.
Madison Square Manager Bobbi Randall said that she and property owner Bill Doyle looked into adding some outdoor lights, but the $10,000 estimate was a bit too pricey. Randall went on to state that, in the past, she also tried using flood lights.
"But they broke them, and those things get expensive," Randall said.
Markley suggested focusing the purchase of lighting on only certain places in the neighborhood. Randall replied that the estimate she and Doyle received was strictly for the areas that needed light the most.
Stapp then suggested lighting one area at a time, to lessen the immediate expense. "$10,000 at the moment is hard," Randall said. "We can see if they can come out there and do it sparingly."
Additionally, Markley suggested that management speak to Georgia Power about security lights, the cost of which could be added on the complex's monthly bill.
A final suggestion, Stapp asked about cutting the underbrush from the woods between two of the properties.
"They would be visible to us, management, the residents," Stapp said. "They wouldn't have a place to hide."
Management of the Micha Way properties decided to look into the cost of clearing the underbrush, and the possibility of a controlled burn.
Management expressed thanks to law enforcement, and to the City of Madison for the installation of speedbumps on Micha Way.
They said that they noticed a definite improvement throughout the neighborhoods but knew there was still work to be done.
"It's almost 100 percent better than it was," Randall said. "Traffic has cooled down some. Still, a lot of traffic comes in, goes down, stays a few minutes and leaves, but it's not as bad as it was."
Given the opportunity, management let law enforcement know their suspicions as far as the location where non-residents were entering the property, through a bunny trail adjacent to Ingles.
Management also acknowledged some recent problems with vandalism.
"I haven't really had a bunch of hanging out lately," Mindy Burns, of Madison Duplexes, said. "My biggest problem right now is the telephone boxes are down, the wires are out...Those are little kids out there."
Markley also asked Burns whether Madison Duplexes had been successful in re-installing broken windows on some units.
"Rick's really worried about putting them on," Burns said. "The last one was busted out within a week and they're $270 a window."
Markley suggested putting a Plexiglass cover on all of the new windows until the unit was occupied, so that the fixture couldn't be broken.
Madison City Council member Michael Naples also spoke to the group, stating that the city council was looking into new ordinances and encouraging Orchard Grove and Madison Duplexes to look into hiring an on-site manager.
"We are actively examining ordinances- junk, cruising, loitering, littering- and we found some great ones and I'm sure that one or more will be enacted shortly," Naples said. "I think the heart of the problem comes down to the complexes...I really believe that a 24/7 resident manager solves a lot of problems."
A good idea, it's not as easy as it sounds, according to management. Residents must be income-qualified to live in Orchard Grove and, according to Burns, Madison Duplexes already has an employee, primarily responsible for maintenance, that also keeps an eye on things.
Both representatives of Orchard Grove and Madison Duplexes agreed that the cost of employing an on-site manager wasn't an expense that could be incurred at the the present.