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A Broken Window of Opportunity

The passing of James Q. Wilson brings to light the significance of the "broken window theory" and what it means to the West End.


The cover of the March 3 issue of the New York Times noted the passing of James Q. Wilson
, a man whose name may not evoke an immediate reaction but whose work is the cornerstone on which (WEBA) (www.westendbeautification.org) was founded.

Mr. Wilson was a social scientist and Harvard researcher who, among other accomplishments, was one of the authors of the “broken window” theory. The theory states that people’s perception of a neighborhood’s safety is not based on the neighborhood’s actual crime rate, but rather whether the neighborhood “appears to be well-tended.”

Using a broken window as a metaphor, Mr. Wilson concluded that a broken window left unrepaired shows that no one cares, so when the next person breaks the next window it seems a bit less terrible, because a level of neglect has already been established. It becomes easier and easier to continue into criminality and blight because each successive transgression, while seemingly harmless in and of itself, becomes a growing pattern of neglect, for which no one feels responsible but for which everyone is responsible.

Arresting a single intoxicated person on West Beech Street, fining a dog walker who doesn’t scoop the poop, or issuing a citation for a storeowner who ignores sanitation codes may seem harsh. But failure to do anything can destroy an entire community.

, our mission statement was to “improve the aesthetic quality of life in the West End community of Long Beach, NY.” But since turning around a community takes a concerted effort by residents, businesses and the city, we began with simply planting flowers so that the neighborhood “appears to be well-tended” and shows that its residents truly care.

Please join WEBA in honoring the memory of James Q. Wilson by continuing to work towards making the West End the best it can be.

Help our efforts to bring back a Code Enforcement Officer to the West End.

Add your voice to the group of West End residents who brought their quality of life concerns to City Manager Jack Schnirman and the City Council at the .

Throw away the next piece of trash you see on a sidewalk.

And why not make today the day to fix that broken window.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

laocoon March 15, 2012 at 01:51 PM
More and higher fines would be a good way to further diminish the plummeting home values in the West End. Instead of seeking higher costs for those unfortunates who are already being soaked for $9,000 in taxes, how about improving the quality of life by coming down on bars open after hours and serving minors? An abolition of the annual "Irish Day" disgrace would go a long way toward improving the reputation of this community as a shanty, drunk laden wasteland of misfits.
Candygram for Mongo March 15, 2012 at 02:19 PM
here here! that was like poetry
Theresa Buonomo March 15, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Very well put!
Glenna King March 15, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Great article, thank you!!! This world would just be so much better if everyone thought about others a little bit once in awhile.
Mary Ellen Pollina March 15, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Thank you for your comment. Regarding Irish Day, you may want to contact Rich Papetti who is spearheading a quality of life movement in the West End.
rich March 15, 2012 at 05:02 PM
enforcement issues were a concern for the listening session and Irish day has its problems. We are not a self policing community, yet the quality of life we deserve starts with us. We need to be heard and the City needs to take action to protect what is rightly ours. You cannot do anything or be heard from your couch, so get involved and "give a damn". Thanks Mary Ellen for all you do!
Brendan March 15, 2012 at 05:28 PM
I wonder if this Anti-Fun Committee will meet the same fate as WEBA and WENCA, in crazed infighting, nasty rumor spreading, allegations of sabotage and the like. Hilarious watching people try and change the status quo when they themselves created, bought into, profit from and fund the status quo.
toolittle March 15, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Keep up the good work. If we added a code enforcement office and the police strictly enforced the law, our quality of life could improve dramatically !
paul.d.spellman March 16, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Brendan, I think it is only fair for me to inform you that I have applied for a Trademark with the Patent Office for the exclusive use of the name and logo of "The Anti-Fun Committee"
Barbara J Lee March 16, 2012 at 04:38 PM
This work you do in the West End is a testament to the old adage: "all politics is local"! Love to read about its happening for you "local"!
Brendan March 16, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Hittin' the sauce early, Barbara?
Barbara J Lee March 16, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Ah, come on Brendan! Lighten up! I'm not wearing these rose colored glasses to hide bloodshot eyes! Honest!
toolittle March 19, 2012 at 01:26 PM
By the by, the "ATM" store on West Beech St. has nothing but broken windows. I don't think there is one that isn't broken. Who can we notify to get these fixed ? Any suggestions ?
Mary Ellen Pollina March 19, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Maryl, This is a one of the enforcement issues that have been neglected. The owner of the building should have taken action to make repairs. Take a photo and send it to the Building Commissioner: Scott Kemins at SKemins@LongBeachNY.org or call 431-1000 ext. 252 to report it.
Brendan March 19, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I gotta tell ya, I feel bad for whoever owns that little enclosure, even if it is those awful bastids (not a typo, that's what they are, bastids) at Bank Of America. Idiots take it upon themselves to break that glass every time they repair it. They really should find a different material to put in there, maybe some sort of plexiglass or something, because whatever they have in there now, it is no match for the power of the mighty hammerhead drunks and boneheads.
paul.d.spellman March 19, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Why the hell do they even have the ATM inside that little aquarium? Just place it out on the street where every other hole in the wall not attached to an active bank branch is installed.
Candygram for Mongo March 19, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I have received confirmation that it seems to be a pretty good place to poop
Brendan March 19, 2012 at 07:18 PM
I'm really not sure...it does seem a bit odd, paul. The enclosure is nice when you want to withdraw money in the blowing wind or the winter time, though. But most of the establishments around there take cards or have ATMs of their own which charge comparable fees. I guess if you're a BOA customer you're glad to have it there. And MeAgain, how did you "receive confirmation" of this? Was it via a "note" that was "posted" to the bottom of your footwear?
Candygram for Mongo March 20, 2012 at 12:10 AM
I witnessed first hand a large deposit a few years back
rich March 20, 2012 at 12:00 PM
no longer bank of america, the owner was released from contract and installed his own, privately owned atm. he actually has fixed the windows a number of times, but with lack of enforcement from his neighbor's employees and the LBPD when it is closing time, they are broken time and again.
toolittle March 20, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I can understand the owner's frustration, would a video camera and/or large sign making people aware they are being recorded deter the constant vandalism ? It really is an eyesore.
inplainsight March 20, 2012 at 07:02 PM
well, maybe with the new donut store on the corner, there will be a better police presence. does anyone know the name of the store?
paul.d.spellman March 20, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Actually I heard they were examining the building housing the ATM for their new location. and they are trying to get up and running for the summer, if not then definitely for Irish Day

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