October 18th, 2009

Miracle Mile group on the offensive

 

ROCKFORD — A key goal of a business advocacy group is looking out for fellow business owners and the patrons who shop there.

That’s why Dan Arnold is happy that Miracle Mile Rockford — the group representing businesses along East State Street from SwedishAmerican Hospital to Rockford College — has found success expanding its membership and working with police to reduce crime.

“That work definitely keeps up the area and brings in the prospect of more business,” said Arnold, owner of Arnaldo’s Pizzeria, 3825 E. State St.

The police partnership is the latest focus of the Miracle Mile group. Merchants are working closely with police to fend off future problems following a string of recent break-ins and the closure of an unlicensed massage business that moved into the area.

Sgt. Marc Welsh with the Rockford Police Department’s Community Services Unit said the Miracle Mile has seen a bit more crime this year but nothing out of the ordinary.

Reports in several categories were up slightly in August — the most recent information available — but partly because of an increase in officer-initiated reports. Those include all reports, not just arrests, and charges stemming from burglary to driving with a suspended license.

Welsh said police are patrolling “hot zones” based on repeated business and residential concerns, and officers have stepped up their presence in general.

Businesses owners worked with Rockford Police last month to shut down a business called Relaxation Sensation that didn’t have proper city permits. There were no arrests, but city building and zoning officials and fire department personnel contributed to that effort.

Police complimented both Don Carter Lanes and Alpine Inn for their work to improve security, from hiring security guards to installing cameras that are monitored for suspicious activity.

Tom Baudhuin co-owns the Alpine Inn, 4404 E. State St. He took over the property about two and half years ago and has begun renovating the motel, which had fallen into disrepair and attracted police calls for burglaries and drugs.

Increasing security in the area should help property owners recognize problem renters and not rent to them again, Baudhuin said.

Arnold hasn’t had any problems with crime since opening his business in 2006, but some of his neighbors have. And the plaza where his business sits — where the CVS pharmacy was before it relocated to Alpine and State streets — is big, which attracts loitering.

Arnold said he has noticed more police hanging out in the parking lot and patrolling the area.  Businesses worked with the plaza owner to keep the lights on later in the evening as another means of deterring problems.

Pam Lack said she and her husband, John, didn’t hesitate opening their restaurant along the Miracle Mile. Johnny Pamcakes, 3700 E. State St., has been open about 18 months. Lack said business is booming and they’ve had no problems. Some of the local police officers even frequent the establishment.

“We support the Miracle Mile programs,” Lack said. “They are a wonderful group that takes pride in their vision, and that’s really important to businesses in this area. We have to have them behind us. It’s one of the things that drew us to this area.”

Miracle Mile members are meeting with police four times a year, and Welsh emphasized that those efforts are key to reducing crime.

“It’s working,” Welsh said. “The businesses in that area are doing everything they can to work with the police and promote crime awareness and crime prevention.” 

Reach staff writer Melissa Westphal at 815-987-1341 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
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