The Meriden Housing Authority is looking for ways to institute and fund a security program using retired police detectives to patrol large apartment buildings downtown. This sounds like a necessity, because of chronic problems at places like Community Towers, on Willow Street, where security doors are propped open by residents, and guests enter and exit without going through front-door security.
The 221-unit high-rise houses both elderly people and non-elderly disabled tenants, which has not always been an agreeable mix. Despite a daily police presence, the doors reopen after officers leave, leading to problems such as homeless people sleeping in the hallways, unauthorized overnight guests, and drug use.
This might sound like a job for community policing along the lines pursued by the Meriden Police Department’s Neighborhood Initiative Unit — which tries to “work closely with other agencies and groups to bring positive change to the neighborhoods” — except that, at Community Towers, police report “limited assistance from residents who do not want to get involved."
"Our N.I. unit does spend some time in that area and deals with quality-of-life issues," said MPD spokesman Sgt. John Mennone.
One avenue that might be productive would be to try to get the Community Towers tenant council more involved. Whether or not that will help, MHA Executive Director Robert Cappelletti has approached developers at Meriden Commons, 24 Colony St., and at 11 Crown St. about sharing the costs of paying an officer to patrol the buildings around the clock. The cost of such a new security plan would be an issue, of course, but Cappelletti said there could be funds available through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
If other major landlords could be recruited into such a program, it might be possible to enhance security at large downtown complexes and in the downtown area in general. This could enhance the feeling of security for all downtown tenants, including seniors, as well as for visitors.
That feeling of safety is itself a quality-of-life issue, and such an improved atmosphere could only be good for the future development of Downtown Meriden’s Transit-Oriented District.
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