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Wright Ave. Residents Hope Renamed Resource Center Is Step to Resurgence

City officials in Little Rock unveil new brand for community alert centers while community members in one neighborhood hope it signals a true change.
"A haircut's like prayer. It changes things," Roy Allison said, watching as his son squinted to keep the line straight. 

The buzz behind the razors is Roy Allison's excitement about his barber shop's grand opening on Wright Avenue Friday.

"I appreciate where I come from," Allison said. "I'm tired of talking about it. I'm about being about it." 

Within his windows is not the only place he is catching glimpses of changes taking shape. 

"I want to tell city officials to do something," he said. "Let me see what you're going to do for the community."

"I know during the lean times we had to tighten up," said Mayor Mark Stodola during a press conference on Friday. "I'm glad we're back." 

The City of Little Rock is reopening what was known as the Wright Avenue Alert Center. 

"Back in 2008 we had to close it down because of budget constraints," said Housing and Neighborhood Programs Director Andre Bernard.

Allison said the cut came at a cost for the community.

"When something happened it was wide open," Allison said. "We didn't have no one to patrol round here."

The new location has been rebranded as the Neighborhood Resource Center. It will be geared toward information from Public Works to social services. 

"It's not so much being a response center for crisis that happen in the neighborhood," Bernard said. "Not a community center in the recreation sense, but a community center in the information sense." 

Police officers had been eliminated from the centers to cover shortages in patrol and special assignments. But along with a new, expanded mission, city officials announced the badges will be back. 

"Bring the police back on the bicycles," Allison said. "We need all this in the community."

"Their [police officers] main focus is to engage the residents get to know residents and be visible in neighborhoods," Bernard said.

The effort to reopen and re-engage, along with other investments sprinkled in with dilapidated structures may be a step forward. And it may be validating for Roy.

"All you gotta do is look around. It's going to get better," Allison said. "This used to be Chenal, you know? The area was known as classy. We're going to bring it back."

He believes his once prominent neighborhood is, in fact, on the verge of a turnaround. 

According to Little Rock Police, 13 officers will be devoted to the community oriented policing. They began filling those roles last week.

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