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FROM an aesthetics perspective, conditions at the Country Squire Lakes subdivision north of North Vernon in Jennings County are definitely on the upswing.
Recent improvements in the private community included:
While those are certainly major steps in improving the image of the neighborhood, providing residents with a sense of security remains the No. 1 concern of those who live in the 4,000 lot subdivision.
It has only been in the past year that Jennings County and Indiana State Police have been able to enforce traffic laws in the private community, and that came about because of a successful petition drive by the Country Squire Lakes Community Association for Jennings County to take control of safety and maintenance of the development’s three main roads.
Public safety issues have long been a blot on the community’s image, and the inability to enforce any traffic laws led to situations that sometimes resulted in injuries and deaths in accidents. Police did have a presence in the community, but that was only when crimes were reported and they were called to investigate.
Conditions in the area deteriorated for a number of other reasons as well. Cash flow difficulties, occasioned by a failed investment in which one developer had acquired 500 of the 4,000 lots but abandoned the properties, and the recession of 2008 took a significant toll, reducing the association’s abilities to maintain the subdivision.
That led to lower property values. At the same time, reports of crime and lawlessness in the subdivision rose.
While infrastructure improvements will contribute to an increase in the quality of life for Country Squire residents, the greatest benefits will be attained through a visible police presence that will not only improve safety but provide residents with a stronger sense of security.
While resources are limited in Jennings County, officials might want to consider a program similar to the COPPS initiative that has been launched by the Columbus Police Department.
The three-officer Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving unit was created to address issues in areas of high criminal activity, most recently around the Ninth Street Park and the 11th and Washington streets
Devoting all of their time to these areas, the members of the unit have maintained a round-the-clock presence that enables them to respond almost immediately to reports of crime and serves to discourage would-be offenders.
That requires a significant commitment in a community with a small police department such as Jennings County, but a coordinated effort between the local and state police could create enough of a presence to have an effect.
It will also make the Country Squire Lakes subdivision a more desirable place to live.
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