Quality of Life on Block 832
I went to investigate after a neighbor on Block 832 called to ask my advice about dealing with a new situation, the presence of a group of men just behind the back fence of her home on Crescent Avenue.
It turns out that these men have set up a little camp, with cinder blocks for seats. Judging by the debris, they are eating, drinking, changing clothes and hanging out just inches from her fence. She could hear their loud talk but did not know why they were there.
Since our conversation, she has been able to alert police to their presence and they have been moved along several times. The next step is to get the property owner to clean up the site and further discourage them from coming back.
I recognized at least one of the habitues as a person who oftens drinks in Municipal Lot 7, starting in the morning and coming back repeatedly. I had asked the bike patrols guys to ride through the lot occasionally and roust these guys out. Maybe inadvertently I contributed to my neighbor's new problem.
Open-air drinking and all that goes with it (public urination, litter, fights) are a big problem in many neighborhoods. In some cities, the sale of single cans of beer or malt liquor has been banned. Plainfield still seems willing to accommodate these idle men whose hour-to-hour goal is to get to the next drink.
A former police chief once told me it is difficult to solve these quality of life crimes. Sometimes displacement is all that can be hoped for.
If that's the case, we will work hard to displace this problem from Block 832, with apologies to those who live on nearby blocks and who will then inherit the problem.