By The Gazette Editorial Board
A new police substation that could soon be open in southeastern Iowa City should go a long way to helping maintain law and order in that sometimes-troubled area of town.
Iowa City Council’s support for the substation is another good step toward demonstrating that the city cares about the low-income neighborhoods south of Highway 6.
It’s an important gesture that shows the council is willing to dedicate resources to help strengthen those neighborhoods; to work with non-profit and neighborhood initiatives
already tackling neighborhood issues in southeastern Iowa City.
It’s equally critical for those residents to be sure to do their part — to step up and take full advantage of this opportunity
to develop a strong, cohesive, safe neighborhood for themselves, their families and neighbors.
Iowa City councilors voted last week to sign a lease on a 1,485-food space in Pepperwood Plaza, hoping to open the city’s first police substation there as early as Aug. 1.
Iowa City Police crime prevention officer Jorey Bailey will be stationed at the substation. Other police officers will be able to use the space to meet with community members or conduct other business.
The substation also will contain a meeting space for area groups and members of the community.
Bailey told us last week he hopes that southeastern Iowa City residents make plenty of use of the substation, and his presence there.
The substation likely will be open to the public only during daytime hours. Still, it’s a good reminder to residents that police are watching, and they’re there to help.
It will make police more accessible to residents, especially those who don’t have reliable transportation.
And it is a fitting complement to a number of neighborhood initiatives aimed at reducing the crime and nuisance behavior that had caused neighbors so much worry last summer — initiatives such as a new Wetherby Park splashpad and adults engaging Neighborhood Watch groups.
It’s impossible to say for sure if those initiatives, or the enactment of a new citywide juvenile curfew law, deserve credit for this summer’s relative quiet. But it’s not too much of a stretch to guess that they’ve all been a critical part of the shift.
And while it might be too soon to say whether this summer’s relative lull will last in the months to come, there’s no question that these programs and services are making the neighborhood a better place. So too, the new police substation’s potential.
As Council member Regenia Bailey said last week, the police substation is no panacea, but it is an important step in the right direction.
The city, non-profits and neighborhood residents must keep working together, one step at a time, until southeastern Iowa City’s struggles are put firmly in the past.