Sign of the times: North Abilene neighborhood’s small change shows big progress

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – A city moving signs around isn’t particularly noteworthy, and may seem to be a very simple change. While that may be, sometimes that change can represent a larger shift. Take, for example, the Carver neighborhood of northeast Abilene. The area is close to removing a number of no parking signs from streets.

To understand why that’s a big deal, it’s necessary to turn back the clock. Around 20 years ago, the Carver neighborhood was quite a different place. “There was lots of crime. Drug trafficking was very prevalent”, remembers Andrew L. Penns.

Penns is the chairman of I-CAN (Interested Citizens of Abilene North). The group started with the goal of cleaning up the northern parts of town, particularly the drug-ravaged Carver neighborhood.

“There were several areas in the community here where activity was more prevalent than others”, says Penns. One solution to those drug-heavy areas: signage to prevent people from parking their cars on the street. Penns remembers a time when drivers would make a quick stop, and return to their car with drugs.

After nearly two decades of work by I-CAN, and the coming and going of different people in the neighborhood, drug activity has slowed to a near halt. The signs aren’t needed, and even though there haven’t been complaints that Penns is aware of, they’re causing more problems than they solve. People are unable to park in front of their own homes, and have no place for visitors to park. That’s why I-CAN and the City reached the conclusion that the signs may not be necessary.

“It’s a good sign”, says Penns, thinking of the progress made over the years. “We can say we have made great headway. It’s pretty safe in the neighborhood now.”

Although the work of I-CAN is far from done, this simple change is a powerful indicator of how the Carver neighborhood has changed for the better.

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