Westchester Square starts Civic Association

Lou Rocco, a 35 year resident of the Westchester Square neighborhood, has started a Westchester Square Civic Association to bring the neighborhood he loves back to its roots and deal with problems many are facing, but nobody is addressing.

The association will cover the bounded by E. Tremont to Zerega avenues, covered by Community Board 10, according to Rocco.

Rocco said the group will work with residents, seniors, and the local church to address community issues in the neighborhood he feels are important, but issues that are often over looked or forgotten.

“People walk their dogs, and they don’t clean up, which is a big issue in the neighborhood,” Rocco said.

“Graffiti is another big problem. I talk to people about these issues. We recently received a grant for beautification, so we are going with one block. We will clean it up and then we will move on and continue.”

The first project the group will tackle will be cleaning up McDermott’s Pub property located on East Tremont Avenue.

“We’re going to power wash, paint, and possibly even install cameras,” he said.

“We’re going to concentrate on any area that’s dirty. We’ll be doing some planting, redoing all the grass in the area, and installing planters.”

Because the association is new and the budget is tight, Rocco said they are working on what they feel are top priorities as of right now.

On that list will the establishment of a savings account that will be transparent to everyone in the association.

The account will be used solely for issues the association is dealing with.

It will also become a sort of emergency fund to be used if a tragedy should ever occur to a local resident.

“We are going to watch everything because money is tight right now,” Rocco said.

“We’re going to do our own graffiti clean up and removal.”

Rocco said the idea behind the various clean ups is to try to get people to maintain the area once it has been cleaned up, and to take pride in the way the front of their homes and neighborhood parks look.

Some of the other community issues the association is addressing include speeding, truck traffic near local schools and implementing a community crime watch program.

“We’re getting really active,” Rocco said. “We are trying to put out a strong message saying not to dump on the square, don’t come here for crime, don’t come to our neighborhood to do bad things, there’s a lot of excitement and energy about the program, now it just has to be channelled.”

The first association meeting, which took place on Saturday, January 28 at McDermott’s Pub, had a turn out of about 50 to 75 people.

“The meeting had a real good turn out,” Rocco said. “There was a lot of excitement from everyone who attended.”

The association has received its first grant for beautification of $1,000 from the Love Your Block Citizens Committee of New York.

“We were one of 50 to receive the award, out of 150 that applied,” Rocco said.

The start of the Westchester Square Civic Association will mean a change in the area, according to Rocco.

“You need the people to get involved in taking care of what they have,” he said. “We can clean it up but if there is no love and people taking care of it, it won’t help.”

At the next meeting, which will take place some time in mid March, Rocco said the association will be honoring individuals who have shown initiative and done positive things in the community.

“We will be giving people Home Depot gift cards,” Rocco said. “We feel these will be little incentives for people to keep the front of their homes and area surrounding their homes in good condition.”

For further information regarding the Westchester Square Civic Association please e-mail westchestersquarcivic@yahoo.com.

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