(Editor’s Note – The following letter was written by Joshua Angelus, the President of the Waterbury Neighborhood Council, and sent to community leaders and the media in Waterbury)
Dear Mayor and Aldermen,
I attached a series of pictures that will assist in making clear the tipping point of Waterbury as a functional city and how we suffer from poor public policy, the lack of enforcement and the coddling and tolerance of those who violate our laws and damage our quality of life. They act with impunity.
71 Hillside which has changed owners over 4 times (all investor owned) since 2000 has had numerous violations of various codes over the last ten years. They include numerous incidents of blight, illegal apartments and building code violations. The City’s response has been to issue warnings instead of issuing fines. There is no proactive enforcement process. We have coddled the dysfunctional elements in our city and our policy enforcement has been permissive in allowing near total disregard of our laws. Our city states we are short of funds and yet does very little to issue fines which force the law breakers to pay for their actions which “reimburses” the city for the cost of enforcement.
Currently 71 Hillside has tenants living their without a Certificate of Occupancy. There is no legal egress as the only secondary exit area of the building is boarded up. The property is littered and blighted and the condition of the clapboard allows for animals to easily enter the walls of the building. (.ie. 43 Second avenue 2 houses away currently has squirrels in its walls. There is an illegal heating duct on the backside of the house.
When the current owners were “rehabbing” this house and gutting the interior of everything historic they blocked the sidewalks with their dumpsters for many days and also plowed snow from the front of their house into huge 7 feet high piles that blocked the sidewalk on both sides. It is my understanding that no fines were issued in any of these instances and at best maybe 1 fine was given.
71 Hillside has no certificate of occupancy. The tenants rent rooms, each which has its own lock and room number. The owners of 71 hillside also bought 75 Hillside. We fear they will do the same here.
41 Second avenue another investment owned property which received tens of thousands of dollars from the Waterbury Development Corporation has a littered property with fallen fences that have been not been put back up Garbage cans are “parked” in the front yard everyday within 3 feet of the sidewalk.
43 Hillside avenue is currently blighted with tires, mattresses and other debris.
75 Hillside Avenue another investor owned property is currently unoccupied and both front back and side yards are littered with a trash can that is full with garbage and remains opened.
Recently a group of men have been scoping out 71 and 75 Hillside and 43 Hillside to break in and steal the copper piping. We called the police yesterday and found the doors unlocked and no men inside. This morning these men came back and stole radiators and piping. Again we called the police. Along with this breaking of law prostitution is back up, speeding occurred throughout the day yesterday and loud music came back in vogue. They seemingly have little fear of violating our laws. The dysfunctional people in our city are effectively destroying our quality of life and continue to do this with impunity.. We wonder who is in charge of our city.
The deterioration in Hillside and the neighborhoods that surround the downtown occurs within 3 blocks of downtown Waterbury where we are looking to create major redevelopment.
Hillside residents (and all residnets) along with paying very high regressive property taxes, currently volunteer our services to do the work the city doesn’t do such as taking a major part in enforcing the laws, cleaning litter in our neighborhood, and pulling weeds from the sidewalks for over 3 blocks. Essentially we act as unpaid labor.
Now the city has decided to cut the community police division in total one of the few direct services we receive. With Effective community policing we would not only reduce crime but help in knowing our neighborhoods in detail and be proactive in issuing fines to negligent landlords, antisocial residents who speed, drug deal, prostitute, litter, and make loud noise.
The community police process would reduce crime, create an effective community/police partnership, bring in much needed revenue from fines, and help the process in restoring a good Quality of Life in our neighborhoods.
Waterbury needs to send a message loud and clear; Enforce the laws against those individuals who are dysfunctional and hurt our neighborhoods and damage our quality of life and reward those of us who contribute to the community. Waterbury has to brand itself as a place that has the Unwelcoming mat for the dysfunctional and antisocial elements of society and a big welcoming mat for those of us who respect the laws and contribute back to our community.
It is time to fully fund for 20 community police and to have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to enforcing the broad range of quality of life laws. The Waterbury Neighborhood Council (WNC) has over the last few years called for this enforcement and has given many ideas on how to afford the staff we need. Unfortunately our ideas have fallen on deaf ears.
The WNC is now organizing a city -wide petitioning process to engage citizens in restoring our community police division while growing our membership in 1000 Friends of Waterbury our e-advocate and news list.
It is our hope that the the city’s economic and political leadership will move forward to make major changes in public policy and enforcement while embracing the citizens by giving them seats at the table of democracy.
Waterbury Neighborhood Council
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, that is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Meade