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Southeast Denton neighbors still keep watch

Longtime residents of Southeast Denton learned more Monday about an initiative Denton police made over the summer to clean out a troublesome house in their neighborhood. 

The report came during a monthly meeting of the Southeast Denton Neighborhood Association at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, one of the longest-running neighborhood groups in the city. 

New people moved into a home on Boardwalk Lane —  located in a small neighborhood east of Dallas Drive —  last year and trouble soon followed. Residents complained to police about loud music, cars blocking the street and drug deals out in the open, according to department spokesman Bryan Cose.

"The residents were from out of town and out of state," Cose said. "Those residents have since moved out." 

From June through October, two officers worked more than 318 hours of overtime following up on the complaints. The initiative cost about $17,000. Officers made several arrests and broke up a drug ring, Cose said. 

The department also secured a special enforcement authorization from the homeowner, who rents the property, to make sure problems don't return. 

"We'll help them keep track," Cose said. 

About two dozen longtime residents attended the association meeting Monday night to hear reports from code enforcement and their City Council representative, Gerard Hudspeth, as well as the police department. 

The late Carolyn Phillips helped establish the association in the 1990s to help advocate for a part of the city that, historically, was often overlooked by government officials.  

Some of the neighborhood's vulnerabilities can be traced to its early history, when city leaders ordered Quakertown residents to move to Southeast Denton. After the Civil War and emancipation, a thriving, free black community grew between downtown and the Texas Woman's University campus. In the early 1920s, the residents were forced to move their homes and businesses to make room for a city park. 

The neighborhood association, especially Phillips, worked tirelessly to protect the neighborhood, particularly when the Denton County Transportation Authority came through with both the A-train line and a bus yard. 

Many of the neighborhood's elders remain involved with the association, which is now headed by Colette Johnson. The group usually meets the last Monday of the month at the MLK Jr. Recreation Center. 

At this month's meeting, neighbors asked Cose for more information about how to report trouble and suggested another trouble spot on East Oak Street. 

Cose told them that officers didn't want what happened on Boardwalk Lane to happen again.

 "We don't want another hot spot," Cose said. "We need your help." 

To report a police matter that is not life threatening, call the department at 940-349-8181. To file a report online, visit the department's website and follow the prompt for "community concern."  

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. 

Featured photo: Colette Johnson, president of the Southeast Denton Neighborhood Association, stands near the entrance to the neighborhood. DRC File Photo