Survey of Marshall School neighbors reveals many urgent safety concerns

Some asked for more street lights. Others asked for speed bumps along the roads to slow down cars. And many requested an increased police presence.

That’s what residents living in the area of the John Marshall Elementary School, which experienced two shootings within the span of a few weeks in November, asked for when quizzed last week by 70 volunteers from the Boston Public Health Commission and the Boston Centers for Youth & Families.

The responses of 400 households in the Bowdoin St.-Geneva Ave. neighborhood, including those living on Dakota St., Greenbriar St. and Westville St., will be aggregated into a report due to be released at a 10 a.m. community meeting on Dec. 12 at the Marshall Community Center. The meeting will also include a resource fair to point individuals towards health insurance, job training, and community center programming.

“It’s important to know what makes people feel safe in the neighborhoods,” said Barbara Ferrer, the city’s public health commissioner.

“People have concerns about violence in the area,” said Angelo Nogueira Sanca, a BPHC staffer, after returning from his survey of the Westville St. section. “They want to see more police presence.”

One woman told Tre Glover, a 16-year-old volunteer from Grove Hall, that she doesn’t let her children out of the house to play and complained that the street-worker-to-student ratio was too high.

State Rep. Marie St. Fleur, an Uphams Corner Democrat, joined the volunteers on the door-to-door survey of the neighborhood. She said she heard a diversity of concerns, including a woman who asked for more cameras in Fields Corner and increased police patrols.

Some business owners she spoke with said they were scared to stay open and closed up their stores early, she added. She walked in and spoke with the owners of a local Laundromat and a pizza store. Speeding cars were another problem, she said.

The city has added police officers to the area, closed-circuit video surveillance equipment at the school and community center, and a tracking system for community center members.

City Councillor Charles Yancey held his own community meeting shortly after the shootings at which he reiterated his frequent calls for the city to up the number of street workers to 300 from the present number of 30.

Mayor Thomas Menino said in a statement that the feedback provided by the neighborhood will “help us develop solutions that will have lasting, positive results for the Marshall community.”

But St. Fleur added that the entire community has to be involved in the process. “Government can’t do this on its own,” she said. “I think it’s in all of us. All of us have to step up.”