NEW BRITAIN - Residents and officials called on landlords Saturday to fix homes in the area of North and Oak streets.
“I’m just really passionate, upset and angry,” said Annette Velez, who lives in the neighborhood. “I’m tired of it. Somebody has to do something.”
Velez and others gathered Saturday morning to show city and state officials some of the blight problems and other issues in the neighborhood they say have been ignored.
Velez also addressed a comment made by Chamber of Commerce President Tim Stewart during a social media exchange in which he wrote that “inmates are running the neighborhood.” He has since apologized for the remark.
“I am not an inmate,” she said. “None of my community members are inmates. We might be prisoners of the neighborhood.”
“That was very uncalled for,” Velez said of the comment made by Stewart, a former mayor. “I have a problem with you and now you have a problem with me.”
John Allen, another neighborhood resident, tagged along for Saturday’s walkthrough, saying he hopes something is done soon about the conditions there.
Allen said the neighborhood had a major drug problem in the 1970s and 1980s, but, while it’s been cleaned up a “little bit” since then, more needs to be done.
“When you go to Little Poland (Broad Street), it’s built up,” Allen said. “But when you come here, it’s not built up. When you own a home, it’s an investment. You keep up your investment.”
In addition to a number of city officials, state Rep. Bobby Sanchez, D-New Britain, also took the walk.
“This is so important because many residents in this area are going to talk about some of the issues with some buildings,” Sanchez said.
“It’s time to hold landlords accountable,” Sanchez continued, adding that laws and ordinances prohibit some of the things seen in the neighborhood.
“Where’s the enforcement?” Sanchez asked. “It’s time to enforce. You can’t keep a burned-down building for a year. If you collected insurance money, fix it or knock it down so somebody else can build something.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or email@example.com. Follow Justin Muszynski on Twitter@muszynskiBP.