Ann Cornish started locking her door in July, after she was robbed by a man who said he had a gun and had her purse stolen by another man who came into her shop.

"This is not a good area to be in," Cornish said. "Had I known that three years ago, I never would have come." She recalls the police making a stand last year, but said, "It only lasted a couple of days and then it was over."

In February, Gregg's Bakery and Grocery Store opened at East 31st Street, offering everything from doughnuts to wedding cakes and fueling optimism about the area. For neighborhood resident Dinesha Sparrow, it was an opportunity for a job when few were hiring. But she, too, was a bit worried when she started work.

"It's a bit scary in here," the 28-year-old clerk said. "I'm just praying nothing happens."

After last year's killing, police said the owner of Yau Brothers — a Chinese immigrant who speaks no English — agreed to install surveillance cameras. He also agreed to stop selling rolling papers for cigarettes, dice and blunt cigars, which authorities felt drew unsavory clientele.

Police and neighborhood leaders, along with interpreters, met with the owner after the Halloween killing and said he will put surveillance cameras outside and add lights. Police have promised additional officers through the holiday season, and an officer has been ordered to stop at Yau Brothers at least once an hour every shift.

Police Maj. Sabrina V. Tapp-Harper, commander of the Northern District, said the owner of Yau Brothers has been cooperative and noted that the camera "was crucial to apprehending the suspect" in the shooting. "The business owner has been working with us. I'm optimistic about that."

Police are evaluating the pattern of violence at Yau Brothers and could recommend that the commissioner issue a padlock order, a tactic he's used to close other troublesome bars and liquor stores in the past several years.

But department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said police would prefer to craft a security plan with the owner.

"We're not in the business of shutting down restaurants and clubs," Guglielmi said. "We're in the business of keeping businesses safe. We want businesses to be good partners. That's all we ask."

Tapp-Harper said she's ordered at least one officer to walk Greenmount on foot, which taxes an already-stretched police force but is a measure many residents and business owners have demanded.

"We're doing our best," said the major, who frequents Darker Than Blue with her husband. But of the extra resources, she said, "I don't know how long I'll be able to make it last."

Ian Brennan, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, noted that Darker Than Blue's owner had openly supported challenger Otis Rolley in this year's mayoral primary. He said Jenkins' criticism might be "a little more political," and stressed that the mayor is committed to Waverly.

Brennan noted the stronger police presence and community meetings sponsored by City Hall, but said the mayor recognizes that "more needs to be done" and that the task ahead "is challenging."

Jenkins denied that his anger is politically motivated. He said he gave city leaders a chance after the 2010 killings but is convinced that their promises were hollow, short-term gestures that did little to maintain safety in the long run.

"My discontent is with the city," he said. "There is no focus on growth in this area. … We thought we had progressive growth here, but the city isn't buying into it."

But both Jenkins and Stahl said their restaurants are packed.

Stahl called 2011 his "best year ever," and Jenkins said he is having "a better holiday than we did last year." But Jenkins noted that reservations are coming in for earlier times, around 5 p.m., which he believes is related to patrons' concerns about crime.

Jenkins started the Waverly Merchants Association after last year's killings but has disbanded the group, saying it accomplished little. It has been folded into another organization, Waverly Main Street, which had been dormant but is now taking on a leadership role.

The group's president, Michael Haynie, who runs a hospitality management company, said it is up to residents and merchants, in addition to police, to help make improvements.

"We want the perception out there that we do care and that we do work together," he said. "I do not feel that the city has abandoned us at all. But I do think we have to work with the city. The community has to be as much a part of the process as our city leaders are."

peter.hermann@baltsun.com

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