Dubuque Hosts Block Party to Revitalize Washington Street Neighborhood

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

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By Katie Wiedemann

DUBUQUE, Iowa - One Dubuque neighborhood that often sees police activity is trying to gain a different kind of attention. Police say they respond more to the Washington Street Neighborhood than any other area of the city. That neighborhood covers a 55 block area in downtown Dubuque. It extends from 11th to 22nd Streets and boarders Elm Street and Central Avenue.

On Thursday, the city hosted a block party. Neighbors planted a garden and painted a mural on the street.

Long time Washington Street Neighbor Jean Vorwald says she's sick of the crime in her neighborhood.

Vorwald said, "I have people all the time say to me all the time, "why don't you move out of that neighborhood?" But I shouldn't have to move out of my neighborhood. "

David Morgan believes crime in this area has gotten worse as of late.

Morgan said, "when we moved into this neighborhood there wasn't any shootings. There wasn't any gang banging. There wasn't any dope selling. Now it's like ever since last year or the year before, it's like guys coming from Chicago or coming from out of town is tearing it down. You know what I mean? "

But other neighbors say the perception of crime is much worse than the reality.

Michelle Clemens said, "I will butt into people's conversations and say "no, no, no. I live there and it's not a danger. "

Neighbors are hopeful efforts to clean up the area will give people a new way to look at the neighborhood.

Dubuque police recorded data on some recently renovated homes. They say the number of police calls to those homes dropped significantly after the renovation.

City of Dubuque Economic Development Coordinator Megan Starr said, "Any time buildings are kept up that's always a benefit for crime rates. "

Morgan said, "Maybe we need to do something that's going to better it because if we don't do it now we are going to be in trouble. In the next year or two we are going to be in a bad situation here in Dubuque. "
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