It is encouraging to see citizens stand up for gang prevention and suppression measures.
To see the Sunnyside City Council chambers full of concerned citizens, speaking up for taking back the city means the focus is positive.
The hope I have is that those who are gung-ho about gang suppression efforts are equally concerned about prevention and intervention programs.
The passion has to be for both the intervention and prevention programs, and for the additional police officers.
The fight against gangs afflicting the city is multi-faceted and without all the elements in place, there is no victory.
The question is how is the city going to pay for these efforts? Council has already agreed to fund two new police officer positions and a crime analyst. That takes care of suppression.
The Sunnyside Community Center is in jeopardy of being closed because of a lack of funding. Sunnyside's Promise has been operating the community center on a shoestring budget for nearly a year and recently asked for funding to continue running the community center. The decision is on hold while council finds the money or decides to discontinue the funding.
If the funding is discontinued and the community center closes, many of the community members who have used the center, which include both Sunnyside's youth and adults, will have to wait until the city figures out how to reopen it.
Some believe the city should operate it. There is a problem with that idea. It doesn't appear there is enough money allocated for parks and rec to bring on board enough staff members to man the center.
I think partnering with Sunnyside's Promise is a good move. It's a non-profit organization which has been able to employ a community center director and a part-time janitor for less than the cost of a city-paid employee.
The city would have a considerable savings and benefit from a contractual agreement that can be renegotiated or terminated through the partnership. Another benefit to the partnership is that Sunnyside's Promise has already helped the community, providing programs that are up and running versus programs that would have to be started from scratch.
Recently several community members offered to donate money of their own to fund the additional police staff. That wasn't necessary because the city council found the money to pay for these additional officers. I challenge these same community members, actually everyone who lives here, to step forward with their pocketbooks and donate money to Sunnyside's Promise so the organization can continue its intervention and prevention programs.
Put your money where your mouth is...invest in Sunnyside's youth, give them opportunities to become upstanding citizens.