Changing The Focus of Aiken's North Side From Crime to Commerce - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Changing The Focus of Aiken's North Side From Crime to Commerce

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Aiken, SC -

Some people think of Aiken's north side as being a center of crime, not a growing center of commerce.  Local leaders say, that's a mistake:

"People have the impression that the north side people don't want better," says Councilwoman Gail Diggs.  "They think that they don't want to do better to get more than they have and that's not true."

Today Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh called revitalizing Aiken's north side, neighborhoods like Toole Hill and Crosland Park, one of Aiken's greatest accomplishments.  He says those neighborhoods may have a tough past, but the focus is on the future.

"There were empty houses, some burned down, some crack houses," he says, "but we want to renovate homes, then we have families move in, then families enjoy businesses."

"We care about our surroundings, we want new businesses, and we want families to come to the north side," says Diggs, who lives on the north side.

They say they have seen growth - they say part of that has been buying dilapidated homes, cleaning them up, and selling them to families - another big piece, cutting back crime.

Public safety officers say a big part of that is stepping out from behind the crime scene tape, and stepping into the community:

"We want people to call us, to feel comfortable, we want them to tell us things," says Sgt. matt Braxton.

They say that's happening, through events like movie nights, and hair cuts for kids.

"They're talking to us, telling us more things that wouldn't have happened if we hadn't opened that door," Braxton says.

Even if you don't live on the northside, you don't work on the north side, and you don't think you care about the north side -- they say this still affects you:

"We're one big community and what affects issues on the north side could easily be issues on the south side," Braxton says.

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