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Madison Drive: the forgotten part of District 4

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Madison Drive, which was described as a “fruit basket” full of different people with different backgrounds, consists of a combination of apartments, townhomes and homes owned by housing authority.
Lauren Magee, Photography; Kaylin Atkinson, Editing/THE REVIEW

BY
Senior Reporter

District 4 Councilwoman Dwendolyn Creecy has lived on Madison Drive for 14 years. Come April 22, she will be sworn in as the District 4 representative, and one of the first District 4 council members residing from the Madison Drive neighborhood rather than Old Newark.

Old Newark is a historically wealthy neighborhood of District 4. The council member representing this district would generally reside in Old Newark and therefore, may not be empathetic to the issues of neighborhoods such as Madison Drive. Being a resident of Madison Drive, Creecy said that she hopes to bring that empathy to council and provide an understanding of the issues of the area.

“Since [the District 4 Council member is] usually from [Old Newark], and [I’m] coming from a comfortable and uncomfortable past, I have suffered like the people that I’m going to serve,” Creecy said. “I have elderly parents; I’ve lived in compromised areas where you didn’t know if you were going to live or die; I have eaten every single packet of oodles and noodles that you can think of — all kinds of things and experiences that people go through financially have hit me as opposed to me coming to government without the experience of people who have the opportunity that others don’t have. My path into being a councilwoman was not easy, and I think that that’s going to help Newark because I will know the issues and the problems that are stated in council.”

Madison Drive, which Creecy described as a “fruit basket” full of different people with different backgrounds, consists of a combination of apartments, townhomes and homes owned by housing authority. The neighborhood is often forgotten about by the City of Newark, according to Creecy. Now that she will be representing Madison Drive, Creecy said that she would like to direct more attention to the neighborhood and make some changes.

“This block is like a fruit basket of people and situations,” Creecy said. “There’s professors, teachers, housing authority, Section 8, students and homeowners, and it seems to me that most of the rental properties are either Section 8 and/or the housing authority.”

One of the major issues Creecy said that she is concerned about is trash in the neighborhood due to children and other residents.

“There’s a trash factor because the kids are outside all summer doing nothing but going to the store and getting snacks, and nobody is saying, ‘Hey, put your stuff in the trash cans; do this, and do that,’” Creecy said. “For example, actually last week, on Easter, I went outside and picked up all the trash on Madison [Drive], and when I ran into the kids, I said, ‘Hey, would you guys mind helping me with this?’… And they were happy to say yes.”

Creecy explained that even though the children that reside on Madison Drive are a part of the initial trash problem, they are also willing to become part of the solution. Creecy’s campaign for City Council includes bringing back city aid for cleaning up trash as well as creating an event for children and neighbors to organize a neighborhood clean-up.

“When I first moved here, they had a little system, a trash machine….” Creecy said. “It used to come around and help with picking up trash, and then all of a sudden, it just stopped. It just was no more. It would be nice to bring that back.”

The back alley way that residents use to access the back doors of their homes and store their waste bins is also a point of concern for Creecy. She explained that the alley is filled with trash and has a lot of potholes.

“If you’ve been [on Madison Drive] lately, the back, it’s like a throwaway for the city, for the trash,” Creecy said. “Which I understand, but there’s potholes in there that you could put fish in and make a pond; I mean, it’s ridiculous. People [are] having to get alignments for their cars because they’re hitting into these ditches and having to change their tires.”

Madison Drive: A selection of homes and scenery from the neighborhood

Lauren Magee, Photography; Kaylin Atkinson, Editing/THE REVIEW

Madison Drive: Creecy will be the area's representation on Newark City Council as District 4 Councilwoman.

Lauren Magee, Photography; Kaylin Atkinson, Editing/THE REVIEW

A row of Madison Drive homes 

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

A row of Madison Drive homes 

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

“This block is like a fruit basket of people and situations,” Creecy said.

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

A home located in Old Newark, a historically wealthy area of District 4

Lauren Magee, Photography; Kaylin Atkinson, Editing/THE REVIEW

An Old Newark home

Lauren Magee, Photography; Kaylin Atkinson, Editing/THE REVIEW

The Madison Drive neighborhood

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

The Madison Drive neighborhood

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

One of the major issues Creecy said that she is concerned about is trash in the Madison Drive neighborhood.

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

“There’s a trash factor because the kids are outside all summer doing nothing but going to the store and getting snacks, and nobody is saying,

‘Hey, put your stuff in the trash cans; do this, and do that,’” Creecy said. 

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

"There’s potholes in there that you could put fish in and make a pond; I mean, it’s ridiculous," Creecy said.

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

“If you’ve been [on Madison Drive] lately, the back, it’s like a throwaway for the city, for the trash,” Creecy said.

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

A playground in the Madison Drive area

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

A park area in the Madison Drive neighborhood

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

An Old Newark home: Typically, the District 4 council member would reside in Old Newark and may not be empathetic to the issues of neighborhoods like Madison Drive.

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

An Old Newark home

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

An Old Newark home

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

An Old Newark home

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

An Old Newark home

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW

“Since [the District 4 Council member is] usually from [Old Newark], and [I’m] coming from a comfortable and uncomfortable past, I have suffered like the people that I’m going to serve,” Creecy said. 

Lauren Magee/THE REVIEW



Additionally, Creecy said she wants to promote summer programs for the children of the neighborhood in order to give them something to do and relieve their parents. She is a strong supporter of the Police Athletic League (PAL), which offers children the opportunity to play on sports teams.

“I definitely would like it if there was knowledge or meetings of the children being able to join the PAL programs in the summer, so that they know they have possibilities as well,” Creecy said. “This way, it gives other parents the job of helping other parents raise their kids.”

Madison Drive and the surrounding community tend to have a “bad reputation,” according to Creecy. However, Creecy’s approach to neighborhoods that some regard as “not a good area” sets her up to bring a sense of cultural understanding to City Council.

“A lot of times, the Madison Drive area, and right over the train tracks, those areas are forgotten, because people are told… ‘Don’t go over there; that’s not a good area; stay away from over there,’ … whereas, I’m willing to go anywhere, I’m willing to go up any block,” Creecy said. “I’m not scared of people. They’re people, and if you can find some common ground, someway, somehow, with the people, a lot of times they comply with what you tell them. I think that a lot of issues that have come forth have a lot to do with communication. And if you feel as though you can’t communicate with particular cultures or things of that nature, you really need to get into, ‘Well, how can I do that?’ … I think, culturally, that’s what I’m bringing to City Council.”

Overall, Creecy said her goal to better Madison Drive and Newark as a whole will require a multitude of people, institutions and organizations.

“I think that together … and only together, we will be able to bring the embetterment of Newark,” Creecy said. “It can’t just be one social group or one institution or one person, or one situation, that brings us together. We all have to work together as a community to make everyone feel included, to bring up our children in a manner that we want them to be brought up and to be proud of where they come from.”

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