The petition was read aloud during Tuesday night's Board of Commissioners meeting by Commissioner Gladys Dean. As she read, residents and commissioners could be seen nodding in agreement.
Commissioner Patsy Hamer, who lives a few blocks from the neighborhood, has heard gun shots there in the evening.
"I feel we need to address this problem," she said. "I can vouch for the things going on. It's time for us to help the people of this area. We need to take that community back."
The petition said that much of the problem stems from a rented house across from a housing project.
The owner of the house should be made accountable for the problems, said Commissioner Geraldine McLaurin. She suggested that the town could try videotaping the area to "really show what is going on."
But getting to the area while criminal activity is still occurring can be a challenge.
"As soon as they see a police car, they start walking," said Town Manager Michael Boaz.
Police Chief Paul McDowell suggested meeting with the commissioners in closed session. He said some of his strategies to remedy the situation could not be discussed in public because they are sensitive, he said.
In other business, the board:
-- Awarded a $9,500 contract for the construction of a basketball court at Beachum Park to Hudson Paving Inc., of Rockingham. The state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund provided a grant of $6,500 to help pay for the construction, and the town will pay the rest.
-- Approved a change in the estimated cost of the town's downtown revitalization project from $125,000 to $225,000 in order to build additional sidewalks and gutters.
-- Approved entering into a debt-setoff program with the North Carolina League of Municipalities. The program will allow the town to collect money from unpaid taxes or utility bills from a person's state income tax returns. In addition to money already owed, the debtor would have to pay an extra $15 to cover administrative charges.
-- Appointed Aggie Deese to the Robeson County Committee of 100, a private group that works to attract industry to Robeson County.