SOUTH SALT LAKE — A pair of brave and determined women here have taken upon themselves the responsibility of improving their neighborhood.

The pair is up against a high crime rate and faces challenges such as a high population of renters and proximity to major thoroughfares and businesses.

One of the women is taking crime head-on with a watch program that includes tracking potentially criminal activities of landlords in the area. Adrian Allred, 26, has two young children and has faced meth addicts wandering the streets as well as prostitution and street racing.

Allred, who grew up on Layton's east bench, has organized meetings to introduce her neighbors to one another and has brought city attention to crimes ranging from drug sales and manufacturing to illegal parking on lawns.

Among Allred's feats is helping the police catch a criminal by using her phone tree to have neighbors watch the man as he moved through the neighborhood. When the criminal moved out of sight of one neighbor, the neighbor called another that could watch the man.

The other woman involved in an improvement project is 34-year-old oncology nurse Karen Larsen. She is taking a different tack, though she shares goals with Allred. Larsen is chairwoman of a grass-roots committee that aims to beautify the neighborhood, publicize its history and make it a welcome place for families.

"Building that sense of community really has an impact on crime," she said.

The groups don't work together directly but they share information and resources on a regular basis, the women said. Each group meets at least monthly.

Larsen and Allred live between 300 East and State Street in an area dubbed Madison Crossings. It stretches north almost to I-80 and to 2700 South.

The women have on their side South Salt Lake Council Member Marilyn Brusch, who also lives in the area.

"This is really a pilot program," Brusch said. "Hopefully, it will spread to other areas. I think if we can get all the residents to come together and talk about the issues, they will feel more positive and start seeing changes."

Larsen's group plans to meet April 15 at the Columbus Center in South Salt Lake. She hopes to set up committees, plan service projects and discuss funding options such as creating a special services district or instituting a redevelopment agency project.

"Sometimes we expect government to do everything," Larsen said. "We need to do more grass roots — that's what's exciting about this group. This is my house. This is my neighborhood."

For information on the neighborhood watch program, call South Salt Lake Police at 412-3600. For information on the community improvement group, contact Brusch through the city offices or by visiting the city Web site at

E-mail: [email protected]