WILKES-BARRE -- Just a few weeks ago, the Sherman Hills task force formed with a goal of putting a stop to the problems in Sherman Hills. The task force, made up of politicians and community leaders, held its first meeting today, where members discussed their plans. Those plans include beefing up security.
Members of the Sherman Hills task force say they left their closed-door meeting at the Luzerne County Courthouse feeling productive and hopeful, but cautious.
"I`m guardedly optimistic that they are sincere," said Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-17).
They, being the owners of Sherman Hills; it's the housing development that, in the past year, has become a focus of crime in Wilkes-Barre.
The owners of Sherman Hills recently sent a plan to federal housing officials, detailing ideas about how to solve some of the problems at the complex. Sherman Hills owners suggested making the development a gated community, adding fences, security cameras, and security guards. The task force reviewed the plan in its first meeting.
But officials say that because of hud procedures and policies, it could take some time before any of these suggestions or plans are implemented at Sherman Hills.
"What they do is basically they work off a thirty day time table. Obviously some of the things that are being discussed are longer than 30-day project," said Rep. Cartwright.
People who live in Wilkes-Barre say they don't mind how long it takes as long as something is done.
"The first concern is the children. What`s happening right now is these people that`s here that`s doing all this has no regard for the kids," said Bruce, of Wilkes-Barre.
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton says the purpose of the task force is to meet with residents and be their voice. It's not clear what else they plan to do, but residents say having that voice is enough.
"They`re hands on with everything that`s going on here. So the politicians need to listen to the people first and then everybody will take the right steps to go further," said Bruce.
Representatives for the owner of Sherman Hills and their security consultants are expected to be at the Wilkes-Barre City Council workshop and meeting tomorrow and Thursday to present their remediation plan. HUD plans to do more inspections at the complex, and the task force plans to meet with residents a few more times in the coming months.