Residents share priorities they want Savannah to focus on - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah residents say crime should be number one priority in 2013

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

What is the state of our city? Savannah residents were asked that question Tuesday as Mayor Edna Jackson gets ready to give her State of the City address.

Jackson will take the podium at the Savannah Civic Center at 7 p.m. Tuesday and the event is open to the public. 

When WTOC asked citizens about their biggest concerns and number one priority for the city, it wasn't all one subject as many might think. WTOC ran into a group of women on lunch break at Wright Square and when they were asked what issue is the number one priority, they all replied crime. 

"The crime is awful, it's horrible and something needs to be done," Wendy Pena told WTOC.

Pena's lived in Savannah for 13 years and despite the 2012 crime stats showing record lows, she's still believes this needs to be Savannah's top priority.

"There has been a  lot of crime in Windsor Forest recently and it's scary," Pena said.

"Coming from Philadelphia, I'd say I have a bit more knowledge," Samantha Knapp told WTOC.

Knapp, 25, isn't so sure her second home's crime is as bad as it may seem.

"I wouldn't say it's as violent as Philadelphia. There are definitely things that need to be worked on," Knapp said.

Women seemed to focus on crime but other issues from the other gender popped up as Savannah priorities.

"Unemployment in my opinion. Too many people on welfare," Jean Paul Decramer told WTOC.

"Homelessness. We have serious problems in this city with homelessness," Jerry Gibbons said.

"The tourist situation and making things better for the tourists. That's what keeps Savannah going, I think," Frank Barrow told WTOC.

With all the talk of crime and the negative publicity, tourism has continued to be a bright spot for the city and businesses who depend on visitors coming to Savannah. 12 million people came to Savannah in 2012. Now, more hotels are being planned, 850 new rooms by the end of 2014. Savanna was also just named one of the top ten most romantic cities by livability.com.

For Planters Inn general manager Marc Friday, who also heads up the local group of bed and breakfasts, crime, unemployment and the economy are all tied into keeping tourism thriving.

"Well, with the good, there is the other side of it and the mayor and city council have to and tourism leaders have to take a look at tourism and  figure out how many can we actually serve, is their a point of saturation, where we can't serve the people in the way expect  us to serve them," Friday told WTOC. "We are the hostess city. We don't want to lose that charm."

Ask a few more ladies if they feel safe and here comes that word crime again.

"Most of the time I feel safe but it does make you think, makes you worry," Jennie Ridley said.

"In particular, the last couple weeks everything that's been going on. I grew up on the southside," Jen Bowles said.

The State of the City begins at 7 p.m. in the 3rd Floor Ballroom at the Savannah Civic Center. The public is welcome, and a question answer session and public forum is expected to be part of the event.

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