The first meeting for a new South Side Bethlehem block watch group is slated for this evening, according to the chief of police.
Chief Craig Finnerty said the 5:30 p.m. meeting at 520 E. Fourth St. aims to open more frequent communication among city police, residents and merchants in the 4 Blocks International neighborhood. The new effort is being championed by the Community Action Development Corp. of Bethlehem, which promotes social and economic changes in the city.
The new group would focus on a corridor of the South Side between Hayes and Polk streets, north to the South Side Bethlehem Greenway and south to Fifth Street, according to Finnerty.
The chief said city block watch programs have come and gone over the years, but he hopes to focus on bolstering their staying power and effectiveness with the help of the community.
“It is our goal to cultivate those that remain, and create more where there is interest,” Finnerty said in an email. “We are confident there will be more created before year’s end.”
Ellen Larmer, director of the Community Action Development Corp. of Bethlehem, said many South Side businesses expressed an interest in starting the group to help collaborate, share information and increase safety in the neighborhood.
“I think it’s tremendously positive that businesses want to collaborate together like this,” Larmer said. “It’s about taking ownership of the neighborhood, which is important in revitalization.”
Larmer said the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley was integral in working with the Bethlehem police about starting a new block watch group.