Following several community meetings centered on crime and decreasing property values in the northern end of Walker County, plans are in motion to address those issues.
At the third community meeting organized in part by David Roden, a Wilson Road resident and owner of Mountain View Estates on Wilson Road, plans for potential satellite office space for the Walker County Sheriff's Office were discussed.
"Crime was the No. 1 issue of residents at the first meeting. The second meeting's breakout groups said they wanted a satellite sheriff's office out here," said Roden.
Sheriff's Office Deputy Bruce Coker told those in attendance at the most recent meeting, held at Happy Bible Believers Church on Wilson Road, that several options are being considered.
"Leonard Nixon has that old quarry building," Coker said. "The building is occupied by someone watching the property. Leonard Nixon said he would like us to come there and he'd fund it. Chris Carlton owns the Ridgeland Park on the hill. His building would be big enough to house an office. We could house a food pantry there. That's a dandy location and he gets security for his business."
Local resident Jon Hooper, who's also helped to organize the meetings, said Sheriff Steve Wilson plans to certify the Wilson Road area as a Neighborhood Watch area. Hooper said he hopes area residents will download the Village Defense app to communicate with police and help them find criminals.
Wilson attributed some of the issue to transient people.
"You need to enforce no trespassing laws," he said.
And some of the crime, said Wilson, is the result of gang activity spilling over from Chattanooga. He encouraged residents to let apartment managers know of problems so those involved can be evicted if need be.
"I've had two successful meetings with the two largest complexes in Rossville. They are glad we came to them to make a difference in Rossville," he said.
Wilson added: "I can already see a difference in some areas. I think we've made some improvements already."
That sentiment carries over to other main concern voiced by residents at the meetings, said Roden, though more is left to be done. He asked local residents to take photos of area homes that are out of compliance with codes, to show County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell.
"There are nuisance laws in Walker County to address properties," said Roden. "If there are properties nearby bringing down your property values, they are violating codes."
He also said the community should approach local builders in Rossville about a plan for redevelopment.
Local Realtor Bobby Teems said that from 2007 to the present, the Rossville area has had 632 homes sell for less than $50,000. In that same time frame, Fort Oglethorpe had 42 houses sell for that, he said. A subdivision started in Rossville and houses were running $135,000 and now the homes sell at $65,000, Teems added.
"I remember the pride in Rossville," said Teems. "It can be turned around in our lifetime. We need to get back to the point where people want to move to Rossville. It's a shame if your house was worth $100,000 and it's now worth $30,000.
"There was a guy at a HUD meeting that I talked to. What he does is revitalize cities. He has revitalized places that are suburbs of a big community. Rossville is on their radar. He's willing to come and talk."
The next Wilson Neighborhood Group meeting is scheduled for Aug. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at Union Avenue Baptist Church.
To stay up-to-date, visit wilsonroadgroup.org.
Email Katie Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org