Mike Johnson feels abandoned.

A decade ago, his neighborhood was designated Pennsylvania's first Elm Street neighborhood — a status that opened the door to about $7 million in funding for renovations to Olde Towne East, a historic section of York City bounded to the north by East Market Street; to the west by South Queen Street; to the south by East Prospect Street; and to the east by South Broad Street.

Today, Olde Towne East is plagued by an "open air drug market," prostitution and gun violence, Johnson told city officials at a public meeting Wednesday.

"Since that program ended, it feels like ... we were left to fend for ourselves," he said.

The city's police chief, Wes Kahley, assured Johnson that he's not been abandoned. His complaints about drug dealing are taken seriously, but it takes time to build a case before arrests can be made, he said.

"It takes time," Kahley said. "We have to follow the law."

That was one of several exchanges at Wednesday's town-hall style meeting hosted by Mayor Kim Bracey and several department directors. About 70 people showed up.

Johnson, who lives on South Pine Street, was not alone in his concern about crime in the city. In fact, a neighbor said he, too, is tired of the drugs, speeding traffic, noise and garbage.

"You don't even want to sit outside on your front porch," William Walker said. "It is crazy around here."


Councilman Michael Helfrich asked what could be done about underage drinking parties that "are happening all over the place."

He suggested that police enforce the noise ordinance to shut down the parties and prevent violence — such as what happened June 14 in the 300 block of East King Street.

Early that morning, police allege, a 14-year-old boy fatally shot a 17-year-old as he sat in a car after a party.

Kahley said the solution to that problem lies largely with adults.

"I believe more needs to be done upfront by our parents," he said.

Several other residents expressed frustration with blighted properties and the city's enforcement of the property-maintenance code.

Chester Landis, who lives on Texas Avenue, said weeds are overgrown at the vacant Edgar Fahs Smith Middle School, making it a magnet for rats and feral cats.

In that situation and others, Landis said he'd like the city's property-maintenance inspectors to issue citations.

"We've got to start fining these people," he said.

George Fitch, a recent transplant from Pittsburgh, reminded the crowd they "have something great here."

"This is like an oasis compared to where I came from," said Fitch, a new principal at William Penn Senior High School.