Anne Heidemann poses for a photo in July 2020. Photo: David Senklyft for Wausau Pilot & Review

By David Stenklyft for Wausau Pilot & Review

Twenty years ago, several residents in a neighborhood in Wausau thought it would be a good idea to create a group to address issues of common concern and to experiment with a neighborhood watch initiative.

With a grant from Community Development and assistance from the Wausau Police Department, the Longfellow Neighborhood Group was formed. Boundaries would be Forest Street to Town Line Road and Grand Avenue to the railroad tracks, near what is now Bull Falls Brewery.

The group’s president, Anne Heidemann, has been there since the beginning and has seen the growth and positive impact the group has had. 

“We started with a handful of people and were lucky enough to get some start-up money,” Heidemann said. “I don’t think that is the case now. But we also had 100% support from the Police Department and it continues to this day.”

The Longfellow group was also instrumental in helping other neighborhoods launch their own group meetings.

“We’ve helped several other neighborhood groups get started and I think they are all doing well,” Heidemann said.

Meetings, held in the community room at the Wausau Police Department, have a range of issues on their monthly agendas. Usually, the agenda is defined by the specific questions or concerns residents have. Sometimes, guests are invited to speak from various organizations.

A monthly newsletter keeps the neighborhood informed and promotes businesses in the area.

“I try to get interesting speakers at the meetings, we’ve had a city inspector, Health Department, Women’s Community and even a funeral planner,” Heidemann said.

The group welcomes attendees from both inside and outside the designated boundary area.

Neighborhood Watch signs are still visible throughout the neighborhood and the group has been responsible for promoting several large projects including dozens of street lights that were erected along Prospect Avenue to help promote safety, funded through grant dollars. Additionally, a playground was created for smaller children and was named Anne’s Tot Lot after the group president. 

The Longfellow Neighborhood Group typically meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Monday of each month, though meetings are currently on hold through at least September. For additional information, visit this page.