"What better way to invest in my community than to help our city provide an office for the Hoover Police Department to operate in the area that we need." These are the words of a local businessman who is fighting the isolated crime in the shopping areas of Bluff Park. Ken Harden, a resident of Bluff Park for 11 years and owner of Bluff Park Village shopping center, is becoming part of the solution for which residents of Bluff Park have been hoping. In a September city and community meeting concerning robberies in Shades Mountain Plaza and Bluff Park Village, business owners and other residents of Bluff Park petitioned the city of Hoover for a police substation in the area. At that same meeting, a neighborhood watch was established but the substation was not.
The petition gave Mr. Harden an idea to let the city lease space in his complex for 250 dollars a month. “I came up with the idea about two weeks after the neighborhood meeting. When I went to the city, they were surprised and had to have time to consider the other costs involved besides the cost of the location itself, " Harden says.
On November 6th, 2006, The Birmingham News broke the news about the proposal. Mayor Tony Petelos was quoted in the Birmingham News article saying, “The nominal lease makes the offer too good to pass up. For this amount of money, it makes good sense to put that facility up there," he said. "We're doing this to try to give more police visibility in the Bluff Park area."
Then, in a surprise early November council meeting, Hoover officials voted and approved the leasing of the retail space Mr. Harden made available at the discounted rate. "I thought the mayor and council members were attentive to our concerns. I had a unique spot in my center open, and the reduction in the amount of rent for the suite gave the city an opportunity to accomplish their desires to provide a greater police presence in the neighborhood," Harden says.
Mr. Harden hopes to see new businesses open here so that more residents will choose to shop in Bluff Park first., leading to increased tax revenues and help for other neighborhood improvements. The police substation that business and community members asked for, should help to increase traffic for all of the shops in the area. The new substation should be ready by Thanksgiving and will be located between ArmorSafe Storage and Dollar General in Bluff Park Village.