"And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day
For a little house--a house of my own--
Out of the wind's and the rain's way."

         An Old Woman of the Roads, st. 6
Padraic Colum (1881-1972)

May 30, 1999

via email: HeraldEd@herald.com

The Reader's Forum
The Miami Herald

Charles Rabin's article in Neighbors (5/30/99) about the capture of a woman with mental and drug related problems inside the HRS Center may have given readers the impression that the police are creating a "hostile environment" in West Coconut Grove. As the West Grove faces the certain wave of investment money just now approaching this tiny 60 block community, the long history of drugs and the West Grove is at a crucial point.

My company Wind & Rain has been the only for-profit "spec" homebuilder in the West Grove since 1995, having completed 10 homes, all for ownership by low-to-moderate income first time homebuyers. The families who have bought these homes use their savings--gleaned from total annual incomes averaging only $25,000--to invest in this drug ridden neighborhood. Aren't they entitled to see their investments grow?

The plain fact is that the "Black Grove", being at the crossroads of wealthy neighborhoods in all direction and with the "White Grove" entertainment district just six blocks away, is the ideal location to sell drugs, a fact not lost on either drug buyers or sellers. This is the mentality that the Homeowners and Tenants Association, the Local Development Corporation, the Family and Youth Intervention Center, the Ecumenical Council, and most (but not all) citizens of West Grove are trying to change with the help of Miami Police Lt. Dan Watkins and his special "zero tolerance" team.

The "druggie boys" know this time the effort is serious and they know, from many previous crusades, how to fight: by yelling "police brutality" to get the cops to back off. When an officer insists that neighborhood youth--dealing or not--move along from a known drug corner, that officer is disrupting the ambience that tells drug buyers this is a neighborhood where somewhere they can readily score drugs at low risk of apprehension. The majority of West Grovites supports this "aggressive policing" because it has to work this time.

Anthony R. Parrish, Jr. President

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