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Lawton neighborhood holds block party to voice concerns

LAWTON, Okla._Residents in one of the older neighborhoods in a central Lawton neighborhood will get a chance to voice their concerns about their community this weekend.

Saturday, the Comanche County Health Department and the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church will host a block party at O.H. Arnold Park for the residents of the Patterson-Carver neighborhood, just east of North Railroad Street. There, the residents can tell city officials and the health department what they need to improve their community.

So far, residents have been asking for sidewalks, more street lights or even a neighborhood watch group. Some residents told the block party organizers that they just want to feel safe in their own neighborhood. The Patterson-Carver neighborhood is taking the first step to improve the lives of their residents.

"We're just looking to see where there are areas that we might be of assistance. So, whether that's some programs, whether that's some of the resources we have to offer at the health department…just sort of seeing where we might fit," said Sarah Lambaria, Comanche County Health Department.

Pastor Michael Logan, one of the organizers of the block party, says everyone in the neighborhood knew each other at one time, but that eventually began to change.

"Many of the residents that grew up in this community, the children, are grown and gone. So, there's new tenants, many of them are renters," Pastor Logan said.

Pastor Logan says with residents moving in and out of the community more rapidly, they don't get the chance to know their neighbors, and that's where hosting the block party could help.

"This is an answer to our prayers, that we have been wanting resources, that we can reach into the community and let them know we love them and we're concerned about them and that we care about them. So, this is our opportunity to do this," Pastor Logan said.

For two years, community organizer William White has been asking the residents what they want to see for their area.

"Well, one of the things we found out when we did door-to-door surveys in the beginning of the process is that some of the community members were uncomfortable with the flow of traffic. People would drive through at an unsafe speed, there are no sidewalks. As far as physical security goes, the lighting could be a whole lot better," White said.

Residents can tell the City of Lawton, the health department and others that they need to see their community succeed at the block party.

The block party will be at O.H. Arnold Park, just east of North Railroad Street Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. There will be food and games, and it is open to the public.

Community organizers say the block party is just the first of many events on their agenda. They plan on planting a community garden and have a community clean-up day in the spring.

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