A meeting at the Contra Loma Center (Sycamore area) was announced and held a couple of weeks ago. It was not well advertised or attended by citizens in that neighborhood.

Antioch Mayor Wade Harper and City Manager Steve Duran wanted to gather ideas on how to improve that area of our city and asked for ideas on how to reduce crime. Duran had prepared a handout asking for questions.

Both explained there was a need for residents in the area to become involved/active in supporting and assisting our police department. Neighborhood Watch representatives were present and also spoke about the need for residents in the area to become involved/active in supporting and assisting our police department. Neighborhood Watch representatives were present, and also spoke on the subject.

The audience consisted of a dozen people and a "slug" of the private security personnel that walk a beat in the area from Contra Loma to Lemon Tree Drive.

After opening the meeting for citizen input, complaint after complaint was expressed by a number of attendees.

It was the same old "finger pointing" at police services and response time when there is trouble, including shootings, drug dealing and attitude of residents.

Neighborhood Watch chastised the lack of support shown in the area. Meetings held by that organization were only attended by one or two people. They indicated that support was lacking and want more interest in their effort to reduce crime.

I couldn't sit back and listen to what was taking place. This was a meeting intended for hearing ideas for improvements -- not to hear complaints!

I was granted the opportunity to speak and expressed my concern for the lack of suggestions. I said that improving the environment was what the meeting was about. "It's now on you" to work on the problems was my theme. I also suggested that, instead of being critical, perhaps the Watch needed a door-to-door campaign to increase attendance at its meetings.

Before the meeting, I cruised the area in my bright orange car and stopped a number of times, informing groups along the street of the meeting. Many said that they would be there. That never happened.

I was pleased to hear agreement with my statement; then there was a shift to ideas.

I enjoyed one resident's input of a list of city discrepancies outlining some obvious changes needed in the area. The most humorous item was our city installing tennis courts (never used) instead of basketball facilities. It's obvious that planning did not include community input. Such an oversight!

Many folks know me as fairly assertive. During the meetings, I heard no ideas on any community activities. The lack of such is frustrating for me, so I raised my hand again to speak from the floor.

I suggested a "block" or "area" party to be held in a park to celebrate "We Care," and I offered to provide 500 hot dogs and 500 buns and my services to organize such an event. A number of folks thought this would be a good thing to do. I suggested that Neighborhood Watch could oversee security focusing on unity.

Five people came to me following the meeting. One offered to supply 100 bags of potato chips, another advertisement, others willingness to work and participate.

They all took my email address and said they would be in touch. I told each of them that we need to have a meeting, and I did not wish to run anything, instead to share planning and making the gathering and celebration a success.

I have addressed our City Council many times to promote neighborhood activities such as this in all areas of Antioch.

My eyes have now been opened to a stark reality -- no one has contacted me as promised. Perhaps fear is a factor (that was discussed during the complaints).

It seems that interest in making an area a better place to live is something secondary.

Interest dissipates to no interest rapidly, and opportunity is lost. Maybe no one can afford the time. I am at a loss to understand.

I have canceled my order for the hot dogs and buns.

In closing, this is my impression: Citizens seem to have the idea that our government has the responsibility to solve all of our problems, even though we are the true source to remedy the ills. "Its now on you! "

Fred Hoskins is a resident of Antioch