Ron Whitehead has lived in Riverview, a community in Lansdowne, since 1965. And he’s been president of the Riverview Community Association for at least 20 years.
“Nobody else wants to do it, so," Whitehead said.
Because of his long-time investment in the community, and because he’s been in a leadership position with it for so long, he’s gone on plenty of “neighborhood walks” with government officials, pointed out problems and waited to see results. Normally, Whitehead said, it’s been a disappointment.
“Time will tell,” if things go differently this time, Whitehead said, but he cops to being cautiously optimistic because the walk this time was with so many department heads, and with the county executive himself. It’s the first time that’s happened, Whitehead said.
Whitehead was one of dozens of neighborhood residents who joined County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Police Chief Melissa Hyatt and other government leaders – including the director of public works, armed with a trash bag and trash-grabber – on a walk around communities in Lansdowne.
The two men, Deandre Larenzo Buckson and Linwood Ronald Buckson Jr., remain held without bail in Baltimore County, according to online court records.
Hyatt said she always wants to look at factors that reduce crime, but that these community walks are “more than that” and have a broader focus.
“It gives us an opportunity. Instead of trying to figure out who is responsible for what, we’re all there, we can address it, and then we do a follow-up call to document things that we’ve identified…and make sure it eventually gets resolved,” Hyatt said.
Several times throughout the nearly two-hour community walk, a department head would make a note of some illegal dumping, or a street light with no wire, or a vacant home or a rash of graffiti.
The issue was being documented, like Hyatt alluded to, so that it could be followed up on. Baltimore County government staff said throughout the evening they’d be having a call or a meeting in the near future to determine which department is most responsible for which issues, and then figuring out how to fix those problems.
Olszewski, toward the end of the walk, said he saw some “healthy skepticism” from residents as he walked through the neighborhoods. But the executive said he wants to improve the neighborhood, and wants to help the residents feel great about where they call home.
He said he’d love to be able to do a follow up community walk through some neighborhoods in a few months, to see how – or if – the fixes have been implemented.
“Hold us accountable,” Olszewski told an assembled crowd as the walk ended.