Neighbors take back their community from crime, litter

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A group of neighbors are rolling up their sleeves and taking back their neighborhood located near Hopkins Road and Chippenham Parkway.

The Meadowbrook/Meadowdale community is one of the more established communities in the county. Neighbors said, for about a decade their neighborhood watch and clean-up effort sat dormant. But a year ago, people fed up with illegal dumping and crime, decided to take back their block.

"For me, driving in and out of this area, it's a different place," said neighbor Mike Miller. "You used to dodge broken beer bottles along the road."

And cul-de-sacs throughout the community were ideal for illegal dumpers.

Miller said he's seen, "three-to-four bags of beer bottles. A satellite dish and a battery-powered motorized scooter among auto-parts and all sorts of things."

The community lacked pride. "You can't be a proud of about a dozen vacated properties in the neighborhood," Miller said.

After a year-long, community-wide cleanup, the Meadowbrook area is now a polished, rejuvenated place to live.

"We just put a breath of life back into it," explained neighbor Julius Huggins.

Huggins heads the roving neighborhood watch. Sixteen volunteers patrol the streets in their vehicles. Huggins said it's deterred crime from happening.

"I think it gives our neighbors and our neighborhood just a real sense of security and reassurance," Huggins said.

In suits of neon, outfitted with claws, neighbors consistently pick up trash. Volunteers even venture out to busy medians after drivers tossed out things like plastic bags and cigarette butts.

"The county supplies the safety vest and the litter grabber," said Pam Cooper who organizes community clean-up efforts for Chesterfield County. "They can clean it whenever they wish."

Cooper said this is the first time an entire neighborhood took back it's block.

The Meadowbrook community clean-up has triggered a chain reaction. BB&T Bank employees now collect trash in an area parking lot.

"We want to make it a better place to be," said bank employee Denise Morris. "It's a better place to be if you kind of clean it up a little bit."

Jim Holland, Dale District Supervisor for Chesterfield County said everyone should do something.

"Make your neighborhood beautiful," said Holland. "Make your community beautiful and we'll all reap the benefits."

And now that they know what it can be, neighbors aren't about to look back.

"It's pride in the neighborhood, which makes a difference," said Miller.

Chesterfield County Police Department, Crime Prevention:

How to organize a clean-up in your Chesterfield neighborhood:

Meadowbrook Civic Association:

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