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Downtown Summit asks for input from the community

READ MORE: Downtown Summit asks for input from the community
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Local community leaders are joining forces to tackle one big problem -- downtown Wilmington. From the bar scene to parking problems, people got the chance to voice their concerns at the Downtown Summit.

Different organization and community leaders are the people that Wilmington Downtown Incorporated is counting on to make a change.

John Hinnant is the Executive Director for WDI and said, "Once we tally the results the group that was on the stage can quickly disseminate the information to the panelists and someone can emerge as a leader on these issues."

The Downtown Summit held Wednesday night gave local community leaders and members the chance to say where they think downtown needs to improve. A ballot was given to those in attendance so they could pick what areas need improving. A powerpoint presentation helped reflect the value of downtown Wilmington. According to the presentation, the Central Business District brings in around $12,000 per acre in tax revenue.
Some people say the issue goes beyond the money. Many say the real problem is keeping downtown safe.

Do It Downtown's Tom Harris said, "The real problem is law enforcement resources because we only have four officers assigned to downtown on Friday and Saturday nights prior to 1:30 a.m."

WDI is looking for one voice made up of many organizations that can help revamp, revitalize and maintain a safe environment. Some say it's time to put their foot down.

Dave Spetrino is with WDI and said, "Maybe if you have a reputation of 'Hey, come downtown and have a great time, but if you screw up you're not coming back anymore.' Whether it's better communication with our students at the colleges or our police officers going 'Listen, if I ever see you guys out again I'm busting you.' I don't know if you can say that but I'd say it anyway."

Another Downtown Summit is planned for January. Commuity leaders hope by then they'll have a leader and some answers on how to make downtown Wilmington a better place.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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The Real Truth

I will first start off by saying that I read everyone's comments and can't say that I agree with them all. In some cases, this is a stage for people to get on their proverbial “soap box”. Nonetheless, there is a common concern among many of us and the major issue is that there are problems in downtown Wilmington, NC, big problems! Crimes will be committed and people can point the fingers in many directions. Is it the alcohol, police or taxes? I don’t think any of these issues get to the root if the problem. The problem we are having in our downtown is the same problem most major cities are having. Nobody with any kind of authority is willing to do anything about it, or very little to say the least. However, some cities have had success in cleaning up its crime. Let’s take New York City for example. This is a major city that had major problems and the crime rate was out the roof. It was not until someone in power, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, decided that there was nothing more important than cleaning up his city. Until we get some city officials with guts and desire to clean up our city, even at the smallest levels of crime, we will not see any progress.
See folks, I have had the opportunity to see what goes on in our court system when people try to prosecute someone for starting a “bar fight”. The system is flawed to the point that most are not prosecuted. If you are assaulted by someone downtown and try to prosecute them in our criminal court system, you are faced with fighting another losing battle. The truth is, no matter how much evidence you may have that you were assaulted, unless there is a definitive third-party whiteness that can attest that you were assaulted for no reason or fault of your own, no justice will be served. Even if you have a several creditable whiteness, if the judge finds “reasonable doubt” to who is the instigator, no one will be prosecuted. The real crime is that our local attorneys have gotten really good a defending the offenders because of this “reasonable doubt issue”. The people who were hurt and injured, and in some cases severely injured, do not get their due justice. This is eerily familiar to a very high profile case conducted in the 1990’s involving a white Ford Bronco.
There is one particular case I sat through where a known male offender, someone who has a record for assaulting people in the Wilmington area, decides to brutally assault three women in our downtown area. Yes, I said, a male assaulting women! One of the women was seriously injured with a deep laceration (needing 9 or more stitches) to her face which resulted from being knocked out by this person and purposely stomped on by someone in the offender’s party. This offender got off because of the “reasonable doubt” issue, even though he never denied assaulting these ladies. It is also, for this reason the police are less likely to arrest people who are involved in what they consider a “bar fight” even though it happened on the sidewalk on Front St. This sort of crime, and many like it, is perpetuating the problem and allowing these people to become repeat offenders with no concern for be prosecuted. Thus, instilling fear in law abiding citizens from the possibility of being assaulted in our downtown area.
Our elected officials and law enforcement agencies work for the people and it is about time we start holding them accountable. I am starting a grass roots campaign for the people to hold out elected officials responsible for cleaning up our city and making it a safe place to spend time with our families and friends. If you wish to take back our city, join our effort. You can start by emailing your comments and concerns to stoptheviolenceinwilmingtonnc@gmail.com.
To the media: it is time to start reporting on the real issue and stop interviewing the people who are more concerned about covering their own interest and are apt to pointing the finger. Do some real investigative reporting so the true story is told about what is going on in Wilmington, NC. Start with the court records and the person most responsible for making sure our city is safe, our elected Mayor. I plan to do the same.

suggestion

you could lock up all the panhandlers and drop them at walmart as that is the new happening place for bums