What started out as a call for action on a Facebook page by a Port Chester resident upset by a rash of violent crimes in the village has led to a "Town Hall" style meeting that is designed to let village residents ask questions, offer suggestions and get involved with improving Port Chester.
Port Chester Mayor Dennis G. Pilla said the “Improving our Village: Quality of life issues, strategies and solutions" session is set for Thursday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Port Chester Senior Community Center, 222 Grace Church St., behind Village Hall.
"There are many residents who are interested in what's going on, and how can they become more involved to help," Pilla said. "At the same time, the village government needs public input. We also need to communicate more with the public about things we're actively doing to improve the Village."
Pilla, members of the village Board of Trustees, new village manager Chris Steers and Port Chester Police Chief Joseph Krzeminski are expected to attend the meeting, which is open to the public.
The session was set up after discussions between Pilla and Keith Morlino, a third-generation Port Chester resident who had become growingly concerned over conditions in the village because of a rash of violent incidents — robberies, group attacks and a murder — which took place over the summer.
Port Chester police have made multiple arrests in the robberies, assaults and in a rash of thefts from cars in the village. Since the arrests, the thefts from cars have dropped off and the rash of early-morning attacks and muggings have stopped. Detectives, however, have not yet made any arrests in the shooting death of Wilfredo Rivera, 21, of Port Chester and Stamford, CT, on South Regent Street.
In response to the crimes, Morlino set up a page on Facebook called "Making Port Chester a better place." The page, as off this morning, has 266 members.
Morlino, who works as a salesman, said his initial focus was on local crime, but he said his discussions with members of the community and public officials like Pilla have convinced him there are many other issues that residents like himself can — and should — become involved with to make Port Chester a better place to live and work.
Pilla, who said he meets with many local groups throughout the year to talk about local issues and concerns, said this meeting is unique because it has been prompted by discussions on social media, involving residents who do not necessary attend other public meetings like village Board of Trustees sessions.
Pilla said he is hopeful by gathering members of Morlino's Facebook group at a meeting they can learn about what they can do as residents, and then spread to word to other residents — in person and on social media.