West End grant coordinator offers preview of project’s progress

Published 12:05 am Saturday, May 6, 2023

SALISBURY — After months of surveys and community engagement, a demand for youth programming has risen to the top of the wishlist for a grant project aimed at reducing crime and improving Salisbury’s West End neighborhood.

“The No. 1 thing I have heard and what I have experienced is that community members have a strong passion for the trajectory of the youth that are currently living in the West End,” said Chanel Nestor, the project coordinator.

Nestor was brought in by Salisbury to spearhead the $800,000 West End Salisbury Transformed Empowered Neighborhood Development (WEST END) Grant project.

Since coming on, Nestor has been on the front lines meeting with West End residents and surveying streetscapes in an attempt to gauge public opinions about how to best allocate the funding. The results of those surveys and studies will be presented during a community meeting in Hall Gymnasium, located at 1400 West Bank St., Salisbury, on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

“We want to ensure West End neighborhood citizens and stakeholders are informed about all steps of this granting process,” said Nestor. “Transparency while working together supports the best outcome … the purpose of the meeting is to report back to the community about the surveying that was done.”

The project has combined the forces of the Salisbury Police Department, the Salisbury Parks and Recreation Department, the Salisbury Community Planning Department and the Salisbury-Rowan County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“I feel like the benefit of this grant has been that we are working closely with other departments in the city,” Nestor said.

In addition to those property surveys, community members answered questions about what they may see to be associated with crime and what they needed. A representative of the research group Idea Analytics, who has worked with the city since the project’s onset, will present the results during the meeting. On Thursday, Nestor provided a preview of what her team had gathered so far.

“I feel there are a number of ways that youth development can occur,” Nestor said. “I feel like for the individuals that have contacted me and been present in the meetings, a number of things are necessary, such as after school and summer programming, youth sports, support with education and youth employment … we want to focus on youth programming because that is what we are hearing the most from the community.

“All of those things have been presented to me as solutions to keep youth from participating in crime that may be present in the West End,” she said.

Although $800,000 may sound like a lot of money, according to Nestor, it does not amount to much when it comes to infrastructure upgrades.

“Eight hundred thousand dollars isn’t going to stretch far when it comes to capital improvements,” Nestor said. “We want to make sure that if we are utilizing grant funds for capital improvement, it is more so immediate things that are detrimental to community safety.”

One example Nestor provided was a community cleanup or landscaping efforts.

“Some hedges are so overgrown that you cannot even see around the corner. If we can utilize the funding to fix things like that, we definitely want to,” Nestor said. “We have been thinking of the most creative and supportive ways to see that happen. If we can figure out a way to involve youth in something that it is something we could work towards.”

Going forward, WEST END Grant staff will also hold monthly meetings on the second Thursday of each month beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Miller Recreation Teen Center.

The monthly meetings will start on June 8 and aim to inform community members of the WEST END grant project progress.