New neighborhood watch comes together fast to fight crime in Wareham community
Residents of Wareham’s “forgotten neighborhood” have banded together to combat crime and build a safe place for kids to play.
“We don’t want to be referred to as the pit, as the hole, anymore,” said Carol Malonson, an organizer of the new Shangri-la and White Island Shores Neighborhood Watch. “There are a lot of great people who live here. We’re being left to flounder and we’re tired of it.”
Located in the town’s rural northeast corner, the neighborhood consists of single-family homes and former summer cottages near Glen Charlie Pond.
Over the past two months, neighbors have organized the neighborhood watch via social media. So far, 253 people have joined the group’s Facebook page.
On Saturday, more than 100 people attended a cookout held at the ball field and playground located on Peaceful Lane designed to get the word out to more residents.
“We’re pushing to bring everybody back together,” said Corey Tripp, one of the organizers.
Tripp has lived in the neighborhood for roughly 32 years and has two kids, one 11 years old and the other 13 years old. A third organizer, Craig Geddis, moved to Shangri-la three years ago and has a 6-month-old child. Malonson has lived in the neighborhood for 20-plus years.
All said residents, ones who have lived there for decades and new ones with families, are ready to step up and make a change.
“We’re the forgotten neighborhood in town,” said Tripp. “We’re trying to make this a better place for everybody.”
According to the neighborhood watch organizers, that starts by addressing crime and the run-down playground, which hasn't had any work done since the late 1980s.
Malonson said drug activity in particular has been a problem, noting hypodermic needles and evidence of heroin activity are routinely seen.
“It’s been so blatant and in our faces day after day after day,” she said.
Part of the problem is the neighborhood’s location, she said, adding that makes it a target for criminals.
“Because we’re so isolated they feel like they can do whatever they want, whenever they want,” she said. “We feel powerless. You can call the police, but they’re so far away.”
On Saturday, 10 Wareham police officers attended the cookout to meet and mingle with residents. Malonson said all were appreciative of the support.
Regarding the playground, she said organizers are researching options to obtain Community Preservation Act funds to fix up the playground. The act is a Massachusetts law that allows participating cities and towns to adopt a real estate tax surcharge, supplemented by state matching funds in order to fund community projects.
“We don’t have a safe space for the kids to play,” said Geddis. “Addressing the playground and the crime go hand-in-hand.”
But Saturday was about bringing neighbors together over games and food, some of which was donated by Mezza Luna in Bourne.
“We have enough to feed an army,” said Malonson. “We are so grateful.”
Looking ahead, organizers said they will research forming a neighborhood association, meet with town leaders to address the playground and work with police on keeping the neighborhood safe.
“The more people we have, the louder we can get and the more effective we’ll be,” said Malonson.