Here’s to those looking out for their neighborhoods.

Who’s looking out for the neighborhood? To anyone who lives there, it’s usually pretty clear. There are those who take a special pride in how their own home and street is up-kept, and they’ve usually been there for not just years, but decades. Many neighborhoods have their unofficial so-called “mayor.” In the downtown, the title belongs to Steven Valenti whose years of business and advocacy for our city distinguish him. Berkshiretown Apartments has its own “mayor” who is a dear friend, and also keeps me right up to date on issues that need my attention for our seniors in that community and in the blocks beyond. South Onota Street has one resident who earns the distinction with more than four decades in his home. Even in my recent trip to his doorstep, he walked out holding a taping knife covered with compound – saying he hasn’t stopped working on his home for 40 years. It shows, the home is beautiful. It was the neighborhood “leader” on Meadow Ridge Drive that worked with me to make that long-overdue road reconstruction a reality. Community-oriented leaders on West Union Street and Onota Street, who see all that’s going on, and contribute their valuable time and energy to the West Side Neighborhood Initiative. And, of course, there is the “mayor” of Daniels Avenue who led an effort to drive drug dealers right off of that street, and who unapologetically fights for her block. This included what turned into a controversial vote to deliver a four-way stop sign to the corner of Daniels Avenue and Bradford Street. It was a small, but important, move that has made the block safer. No one knows their neighborhood better than the residents there, and that includes all those wonderful people who have earned their special titles.

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