/ So Sad A Neighborhood Walk

Walk 8-19-2018

Dan Benavidez

It was a cloudy, cool and somewhat breezy Sunday morning when we began our walk and I thought to me self brrr I am a little bit cold. But after we started our walk it was not that bad at all.  

Of all the neighborhood walks that Chief Mike Butler and I have walked in over the past 4 years, this one was so sad a neighborhood walk. We had walked in this neighborhood over two (2) years ago and at that time it was a pleasant, nice neighborhood but oh my what a change has taken place over the 2 years since we walked this neighborhood and not for the good!

Never, and I mean never had we experienced a walk where nearly all we talked to were having to deal with a neighbor or neighbors who were into methamphetamine its use and those dealing with it! NOT NICE! And oh how sad when the senior citizen lady who told us she was about ready to go to her church and who was walking her dog came down the sidewalk and seen us talking to a neighbor about meth  and she literally burst into tears as she could finally talk to someone of importance such as Mike and Longmont City Council member at Large Aren Rodriguez about her terrible experience she had and was going through in regards to meth users and dealers even in the unit she had just occupied was covered in mold!

And all the neighbors that we met you could see it in their smiles  that they felt so good after talking with Chief Mike Butler and City Council Member Aren Rodriguez two persons of power and authority in our Longmont Community in that they did  not have to go to a community meeting (which they probably would not go to) take a number and wait to be introduced before they can talk to persons of authority because Mike and Aren were down with them in their neighborhood to listen to them and to help them!

And thank you ever so much Longmont City Council Member at large Aren Rodriguez for walking with us this past Sunday and I do look forward to you joining us again.

 It is ever so good that persons of authority Like Chief Butler and City Council member Aren Rodriguez go right down in the neighborhood to meet and talk to the people in our great Longmont City! Yes, taking the power to the people!

Thank you

Dan Benavidez

Mike’s Perspective

As rare as it might be, there are neighborhoods in Longmont that need TLC. The neighborhood we walked Sunday is one of those.  Often in my narratives, I recount the resilience, social capital and wherewithal of neighborhoods. This particular neighborhood will need assistance from public safety(police and fire), as well as other government and non-profit agencies to achieve more equilibrium within their neighborhood. While those we met were very appreciative of our presence and the opportunity to have a Sunday morning conversation with the finest citizen activist in our community, the public safety chief and a City Council person, they also expressed how concerned they were with what was happening in their neighborhood.

Apparently, there is significant and ongoing use of methamphetamine in this very large apartment complex. Specifically, the most concerning issue was that the apartment complex management is renting apartments to people that are allegedly still meth contaminated. I want to state that this information has not been verified - very important! Those we met were also concerned with antagonisms amongst renters and between renters and the “landlord.” We also saw photos of significant mold in an apartment.

Public safety will begin addressing the issues identified by the residents asap. We will develop a series of strategies in concert with the landlord and the residents to more specifically identity and pinpoint the problem and rethink what possibilities we can bring to life. As I write this, several people are already working on next steps.

We did meet Michelle, Shannon, Brittney, Jerrod, Katie, Lynn, Matt, Jeff and Cheramie. Everyone we met was delightful, wanted to be a part of making their neighborhood safer and agreed to be part of necessary conversations to “get the ball rolling.”

We see this as an opportunity to help the residents of this neighborhood enhance their quality of life in terms of safety for all, neighborliness, and creating a future for themselves that is different than the present or past. There is plenty of generosity, perseverance, and kindness to bring about the flow of belonging into their midst. Transformation can happen when people feel and believe they belong.

Our service towards assisting this particular neighborhood’s desire to turn “lead into gold,” as with the original alchemists, is part embracing new possibilities, part working with certain properties(those in the neighborhood), and part an act of faith and spirit.

Our thanks to Council Person Aren Rodriguez for embracing a new opportunity to walk our neighborhoods and to learn and see first-hand what the Bodhisattva belief professes - that none of us can enter Nirvana until all others have gone before us!

 Aren Rodriguez – Longmont City Council Member, At-Large

The following is my summary of our walk.

First of all, I would like to thank Dan Benavidez and Chief Butler for inviting me to walk with them this past Sunday. The weather was a bit gloomy, but the cool weather was pleasant for walking. There weren't as many people out and about due to the weather, but we still spoke with a good number of folks. It was truly a mixture of people who are pretty happy with Longmont and some who are worried about some of the residual effects of our population growth.

The first ladies, Michelle and Marge, that we encountered were generally happy with what is going on in Longmont. Marge was visiting from Texas, and is considering moving to Longmont after she finishes her nursing degree at University of Texas, El Paso. Michelle works with mother doing cleaning. She has lived in Longmont since she was 5-years-old and said she enjoys living here.

We then walked a young gentleman named Bobby to the bus stop, as he was on his way to work. He has lived in Longmont for about 12 years, and was also generally pretty happy with how things are going. He seemed to generally be a fairly happy-go-lucky kind of guy.

The bus was running a little ahead of schedule, so we were able to chat with the bus driver for a little bit. Cliff is a Lafayette resident, but as regular driver on Longmont routes, he told us that he gets quite a few homeless riders to primarily get a reprieve the elements. Cliff is a housing first advocate and spoke about the initiative in Utah that has been making headlines.

A woman named Shannon was tending to her plants after the previous night's hail storm. She was pleased with where she lives and plans on moving to Brighton or Thornton. Part of that is related to the expensive housing costs in Longmont and also displeasure with some of her neighbors. She mentioned that there is too much methamphetamine usage in this particular apartment complex.

We spoke with a mother of five next. She is worried about the increase in crime in Longmont, but still feels that it is relatively safe. Safe enough that she allows her teenage daughter to be out on the town. 5-year-old Damian was a cute little boy. She said that her interactions with the fire department were good when they resuscitated Damian during a bad seizure a few years ago.

Jared and Katie are volunteers with the Longmont Emergency Unit. They generally like Longmont, but it is hard for them to maintain there residence here due to housing costs. They also spoke about some meth problems at the apartment complex. They were also worried about some mold from a broken water pipe. The management company hasn't done a great job with the repairs and they are having problems with excessive spiders as well. Katie helped a woman named Lynn tell us her problems with the management company. Lynn has been trying to work with Officer Arne on some other issues that seem to be retributive actions against her from other residents as well as the management company. Lynn was very emotional and very happy to be able to speak with Chief Butler. Chief Butler said he would speak with Officer Arne and try to get some answers for her.

Our final stop was with a very calm and collected lady by the name of Cheramie. Cheramie generally likes where she lives but did speak about a couple of incidents that are the result of some of the meth issues related to the apartment complex. She had a neighbor that used and people were constantly in and out of the apartment at all hours. Apparently one of these people molested a young girl, and the girl was removed from the situation. On another occasion a young man knocked on her door requesting help due to a gun shot wound. Cheramie was very understanding and calm about the issues, and would most likely be a very helpful person when having conversations surrounding some of these issues.

The consensus was that this apartment complex has some concerning issues surrounding methamphetamine, and the hope is that they are adequately cleaning the affected units when necessary. There is some anecdotal evidence that this might not be the case. Overall, it was nice to be able to speak with folks about their concerns as well as their general view of living in Longmont. Hopefully I will be able to do another walk with Chief Butler and Dan Benavidez sooner than later.

Aren Rodriguez

City Council Member, At-Large