North Oak neighbors sound off

Published on Monday, 27 November 2017 21:55
Written by LISA BACKUS


NEW BRITAIN - New Britain State’s Attorney Brian Preleski and several other city officials attended a North Oak Neighborhood Revitalization Zone meeting Monday evening to hear about and address problems in one of New Britain’s most troubled areas.

Residents and service providers in the North Oak Street area completed a survey identifying 114 properties that they say should be considered blighted.

For one resident, a woman who would only identify herself as “Annette,” the list was too little, too late.

“This area has been like this for 47 years,” she said. “How much more time do I have to give you?”

Annette pointed out that seven or eight police officers, including Police Chief James Wardwell, were at the meeting at the Oak Street police substation. But, she told the crowd of about two dozen, not enough officials from every city department showed up.

“We pay taxes, they work for us,” said Annette, who admitted frustration with the amount of unaddressed blight in the neighborhood, naming two properties that she felt should have been torn down years ago.

“It pisses me off that I have to drive through Oak Street every day seeing this,” she added. “Nobody’s here to take my voice to City Hall.”

Members of the group pointed out that they have been meeting with police for years to address problems that take time to fix.

Against the backdrop of rising tensions between Annette and other residents who drove around the city Saturday to find blighted properties to report to the New Britain Health Department, Preleski, the guest speaker, stood up and printed his phone number on a white board on the wall.

After joking with the crowd while playing “Chief Wardwell trivia,” Preleski explained that his only housing prosecutor left last month and he has no idea when, or if, the position will be filled, citing budget cuts.

He also explained that last year, his “per diem” prosecutors handling traffic tickets were cut, forcing his office to only prosecute traffic crimes that affect public safety.

“Seat belt violations are not being prosecuted because that impacts your own safety and not anyone else’s,” he said. “But if you don’t put your 2-year-old in a car seat, that is being prosecuted because that impacts the 2-year-old’s safety.”

“We will do what we can with what we have,” he said.

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, New Britain on Monday, 27 November 2017 21:55. Updated: Monday, 27 November 2017 21:58.