Snapping trees and the roar of heavy equipment echoed through the Unionville neighborhood Monday to signal the launch of a new attack on crime.
Workers were clearing out a notorious area known as “The Field” at the corner of Pio Nono and Moseley avenues. Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said it has long been a gathering place for people to drink, do drugs and engage in other nefarious criminal activity. The lot is heavily littered with bottles, beer cans and other junk, but all of that was getting scooped into a large trash container Monday.
“It has been a haven and, as someone said, a hive of hoodlums for quite awhile,” Davis said.
With the cleanup of trees and brush, he said, neighbors and law enforcement will have clear lines of sight on the property to spot illegal activity.
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The workers stopped for a while as Davis and other officials held a news conference to announce the initiative. Davis showed a color-coded heat map that tracked the 135 homicides that have occurred in Bibb County since consolidation. The map showed the Unionville neighborhood as the hottest spot, with 11 homicides during that period, or 8 percent of the total.
Davis said The Field is at the edge of that hot spot.
“We have not really had many homicides that happened on these grounds, but we have had a number of homicides where the disagreement or problem started right here and moved to another place where someone lost their life,” Davis said.
He said a neighborhood cleanup is planned for the area on Saturday in which neighbors will pick up some of the remaining trash.
The Rev. Dave Wilcoxson, pastor of nearby New Piney Grove Baptist Church, said he was happy to see the cleanup initiative.
“This is something that is long overdue,” he said.
Although Davis acknowledged cleaning up The Field might just move the activities somewhere else, he said he believes it will help reduce crime.
“We hope that this sends a message that we are not going to tolerate it, and that maybe they will stay home on Friday and Saturday nights and not come out,” he said. “Maybe they will find something else to do.”
Neighbors said they were glad to see the initiative.
Jamaurus Butler has lived across the street from The Field for about a year. He has seen a lot of partying going on at the lot, and noise that goes on late into the night. He said there typically is around a 100 people on the lot on a Friday or Saturday night.
“It’s a good thing,” he said of the cleanup. “I’ve got small children around here. It should keep the crowd down.”
Wolf Creek Landfill has donated its services for removal of debris, Davis said. The only other cost, he said, is the parks and beautification crew that is already getting paid, so he said there actually isn’t much cost for the cleanup.