Vacant lots and vacant buildings dotted the landscape of Brook Street and Enfield Street in Hartford’s Clay Arsenal neighborhood as a stray cat dodged traffic near the intersection of Garden and Mather Streets Thursday afternoon.
A coalition of community groups gathered at the corner of the busy intersection holding signs and waiting to take Hartford city officials on a tour of neighborhood to show them the dilapidated properties where the city might want to apply its new blight ordinance.
Bea Powell, chairwoman of the Clay Arsenal Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, said the city needs to find out who the owners of these properties are and go after them to rehabilitate the buildings before winter comes.
Judy Ayala, who works as a crossing guard in the neighborhood, said the vacant lot on Enfield Street attracts everything from shopping carts to discarded drug needles. She said she’s angry because her kids have to walk past that everyday.
Gene Mayfield, a longtime member of Hartford Areas Rally Together, said he wants the city to use the blight ordinance. He said the city as a tendency to give property owners, many of whom live out-of-state, the benefit of the doubt. He said he met with Mayor Eddie Perez and his staff last week to discuss applying the ordinance.
Since June when the ordinance was amended it has only been used on one property at 445 Zion Street, Mayfield said. He said the mayor and his staff promised to use the ordinance on at least six properties over the next 45 days.
The ordinance allows the city to levy a $100 per day fine on property owners for each violation. That fine increases to one percent after 45 days of noncompliance.
Gus Espinoza, an official from the city’s development office, said each property is different. He said city officials were there Thursday to listen to what residents had to say.
The city can rest assured that these community activists aren’t going away. The dozens gathered for the tour Thursday said they think use of the blight ordinance could increase revenue for the city at a time when its considering layoffs. It would also increase the quality of life for those living in the neighborhoods.
Click here to read last year’s blight tour story.