Block Watch trying to keep streets safe this winter


By Michelle Dupler
Staff Writer

Steve Mitchell, a resident of the Westchester subdivision in Galloway, regularly hops on his riding lawn mower during the summer and spends a couple of hours cutting the grass outside the fences on Hall Road.

He doesn’t just mow the piece of his own property between the fence and the road. He also mows property belonging to other residents just because it’s a neighborly thing to do.

Sometimes people offer him a few dollars for his time or to pay for the gas to power his mower. He said he usually shrugs them off because he doesn’t mow the grass looking for compensation.

But now Mitchell and members of the Westchester Block Watch hope their neighbors might be willing to put a little money — and some community spirit — into bettering the neighborhood for everyone by supporting efforts to contract with a snow plower this winter to prepare for winter storms.

Duane McVay, the block watch group’s leader, said snow piles up in the subdivision when there are snow storms, and the city doesn’t typically plow residential streets.

Efforts to approach the city about plowing the subdivison so residents can get in and out have been unsuccessful, and McVay said he was told they can’t put up ‘No Parking’ signs to keep streets clear during snow storms.

“We’re pretty much on our own asking people to have a different way of parking when there’s snow,” he said during a Dec. 6 block watch meeting.

McVay said snow plowing is estimated to cost about $2,000 per snow event to plow the streets where there are single-family homes. He hopes that residents will agree to commit $9,000 — or $25 from about half the homeowners in the subdivision — to be prepared to deal with multiple snow storms this winter.

He also hopes residents will get involved with the block watch group, which is just getting started. Only four people came to the Dec. 6 meeting, including McVay, his daughter Amber Dahms, Mitchell, and resident Shawn Thomas.

But each of them expressed a desire to see Westchester be a community and not just a subdivision. They talked about plans to look out for crime, help elderly residents with yard chores, and spruce up the neighborhood’s entrance points.

“I think that’s the thing to stress… is we’re trying to get a community group going here,” Dahms said.

To get involved with the Westchester Block Watch or to make a donation for snow plowing, contact McVay at 264-3266 or

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