SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Where does the city of Savannah stand? What is being done to move us forward? Those were just some of the many topics discussed in Monday night’s ‘State of the City’ address by Mayor Eddie DeLoach.
Over the last two years, Mayor DeLoach says he’s been focused on increasing community policing, summer programs for youth and decreasing poverty.
He says the city has been focused on the immediate problem and not the root causes of these issues.
“The state of our city is strong and continues to grow stronger daily. We will continue to move as one city in one direction, and that is forward,” Mayor DeLoach says.
Moving forward calls for new initiatives like the new “Savannah Forward” plan. The mayor says the new initiative includes the improvement of public safety, neighborhood revitalization, poverty reduction, improvements to infrastructure, economic development and a good government.
According to Mayor Deloach, the city plans to spend $1.6 million during a 12 to 18 month period to build new sidewalks and bike paths, improve public safety, build new parks and playgrounds.
When he first took office two years ago, his priority was crime. Now DeLoach says overall crime is down 8.5 percent, overall violent crime 6.6 percent and homicides down 32 percent.
But some community members who attended the public meeting did not agree.
“This is something the mayor was talking about two years ago. The mayor was talking about last year,” Detric Leggett says. “If you open this casket the first thing you see is a mirror and how do you continue to tell a child you not going to be in here. If there is nothing in the City of Savannah that’s going to be a safeguard to keep them from being in this casket.”
Leggett stresses that funding is the issue, but DeLoach says there are programs in place to combat the violence.
The Summer 100 and 500 programs are two of them, which are geared to provide opportunities to underprivileged youth all year long.\
DeLoach says crime among young people during the summer months has dropped 27 percent.
Others who represent public housing communities say there aren’t enough resources for our youngest community members.
“I service a couple of public housing areas the playground are rusty, there are needles in them, they are not clean enough for our children to play on,” Tia Brightwell says.
Deloach says, “”Our commitment to you is to help break the cycle of poverty, so you can proudly use your skills to earn a living wage and provide for your family.”