Armed with chain saws, gloves and an unshakable resolve, more than 100 people on a rainy Saturday cut through an urban jungle of overgrowth.
The group, which worked in the Washington Wheatley neighborhood near 27th Street and Montgall Avenue, aimed to make the Prospect Avenue Corridor more attractive and to give criminals fewer places to hide.
“People were out here working like it wasn’t even raining,” said Ryan Samuelson, community initiatives coordinator for the Kansas City No Violence Alliance, or KC NoVa.
Authorities have identified the area from 25th to 39th streets and the Paseo to Indiana Avenue as a hot spot for crime. The U.S. Department of Justice awarded KC NoVa a three-year, $1 million grant to focus efforts along the Prospect Avenue Corridor to reduce violent crime and foster cooperation between the community and law enforcement.
“It just works,” Samuelson said of the anti-crime efforts. “Last year we had the lowest murder rate in Kansas City in 40 years.”
Police, prosecutors and residents from seven area neighborhood associations removed overgrown trees and bushes. That pleased Kansas City police detective Brad Bailey.
On Wednesday, he lost a suspect when the man cut between houses and disappeared into a thicket.
“This absolutely helps us see,” he said.
Marlon Hammons, president of the Washington Wheatley Neighborhood Improvement Association, cut down many of the trees himself.
“There were trees there where criminals could hide,” he said. “Now the officers can see through them. … Plus it just makes (the neighborhood) look good.”
Five more “Take Care of Prospect” cleanup days are planned. The next is from 8 a.m to noon Sept. 12, rain or shine, at 35th Street and Prospect Avenue.