Montrose Commons is a Dangerous Place and Not Only for Myrna Ical

Neighborhood association First Montrose Commons is changing the format of its usual monthly meeting, following the death of Myrna Ical, whose body was found January 18 near the southeast corner of First Montrose Commons.

As Jason Ginsburg, president and director of membership for the association, wrote in an e-mail, the group will host a security forum at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts at 7 p.m. February 16 at 7 p.m. to discuss safety concerns.

As Ginsburg wrote:

To be blunt, the south end of First Montrose Commons is not a safe place. This is due to several factors, beginning with the presence of several large, empty tracts of land situated near the intersections of Richmond & Spur 527 and W. Alabama & Spur 527. These open areas provide refuge to a large group of disadvantaged people who are drawn to the Montrose and Midtown neighborhoods by various social aid organizations. Because many of these people are unemployed, they often spend the day and night loitering at or near the intersections, looking for ways to pass the time.

A number of them beg, while others sell drugs, engage in prostitution, or look for crimes of opportunity. Many drink alcohol, most litter, and more than a few use the Spur's heavy landscaping as a cover for everything from elimination to fornication. They are able to behave this way unabated because the intersections that they inhabit are virtual blind spots.

No owners or tenants monitor the several unoccupied lots near the intersections, and few residents or businesses have a clear view of them. The dense landscaping and lack of lighting along this section of Spur 527 also contribute to its seclusion. The freeway itself, including its underpasses, provides a visual and physical barrier that can mask illicit behavior. In short, these problem intersections and the feeder road between them are a vacuum which has been filled with desperate people, and they have thereby become an incubator for crime. This dangerous condition along Spur 527 is evidenced by a map (linked to here) of criminal activity compiled from HPD PIP reports for our area. This environment fosters filth, delinquency, violence, and now murder. We cannot allow this situation to continue.

First Montrose Commons is now assembling a coalition of local interests to address and combat the conditions along Spur 527, beginning with the February 16th security forum. Invitees to this forum include not only our own residents, but also residents of Roseland Estates, Westmoreland, and Audubon Place, HPD, Neartown Association, the Montrose Management District, the Midtown Management District, Mayor Annise Parker's office, District D Councilmember Wanda Adams, TXDOT, Harris County Constables for Precincts 1 and 7, Metro, HSPVA, the South Main Baptist Church, the Montrose Counseling Center, and various local business interests. Several of these parties have already pledged their support to this effort, most notably CM Adams, who is already working with TXDOT regarding the Spur's dense landscaping.

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