FREEPORT (WIFR) – Crime is a major problem in Freeport, where leaders are trying to work with the community to change the perception of the city.
Dave Bradbury says Freeport is changing and not for the better.
“A lot more crime is happening because of the abandoned buildings and kids breaking into them.”
Bradbury has lived in the city his entire life and says you don’t have to look too far to see the problems contributing to the city’s decline.
“There’s a lot of really nice homes in Freeport that are nice and there’s some that just were never taken care of. It’s hard to spend hours on your own property making it look beautiful if the house next door is crumbling, if the windows are boarded up, if the paint’s peeling off,” said Shelly Griswold, the Director of Community Development.
It’s not only those properties that are causing Freeport to struggle. Leaders say it’s the community’s sense of pride. Mayor Jim Gitz says people aren’t taking care of their town, potentially stifling economic growth.
“We need to build a culture where people find it unacceptable to hang out and to throw litter on the ground or to fire shots. We’re hoping to embrace this new wave of new change,” said Gitz.
Mayor Gitz says it’ll take years to climb out of the economic mess, however he says it can be done if the community works together.
The city says they have about 40 homes that are ready to be demolished. Crews are expected to knock down 15 by Thanksgiving.