“Truly what’s happening in this area reflects much of what ails Meriden as a whole so we have to look at addressing these issues block by block,” Jelks said in an email. “Obviously the success of downtown is dependent on the success of the surrounding downtown neighborhoods.”
Jelks has begun an initiative to clean up the neighborhood by bringing together residents for organized clean-up days. She also plans to reinvigorate the local neighborhood association and is exploring regulating the sale of drug paraphernalia in stores. She would also like to see sidewalk and street improvements.
With no parking on one side of Springdale Avenue, residents park on the curb, leaving little room for pedestrians to walk on the sidewalk. Jelks believes the situation may have contributed to the death of Dania Cedeño Del Rosario, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident after pushing her 7-year-old daughter to safety last October. With so many cars parked illegally on the curb, Jelks said it can be hard for cars and pedestrians to see each other. The accident came months after a spree of shootings in the city, included shots fired at a house on Springdale Avenue in April 2016. That same month, three people were shot at Noiise Sports Bar on the corner of Lewis Avenue and Springdale. The club was shut down shortly after and has remained vacant.
Jelks drives her kids to school because she does not feel safe letting them walk around the neighborhood alone.
“It’s not a walkable neighborhood,” she said.
Jelks said homeless people have been found living on nearby Andrew Street. Tent poles and a suitcase were strewn on a mattress on the ground surrounded by clothing and a large plastic liquor bottle.
The area is commonly the site of illegal dumping, said Springdale Auto owner Meckey Chater, who said someone recently left over a dozen tires in the wooded area behind his building at 189 Springdale Ave. A large pile of wood, bricks and other debris were also behind the business, in addition to several mattresses.
Police spokesman Sgt. Christopher Fry said there are police officers dedicated to the area. He could not provide crime data for the neighborhood.
Fry did say the more densely populated areas of the city generally have more incidents reported to police. Some of the complaints on Springdale Avenue involve litter, illegal dumping and drugs, but are not exclusive to the neighborhood, Fry said.
“You are going to find drug paraphernalia wherever drugs are being used,” Fry said. “I think it’s pervasive throughout Meriden.”
Fry attributed to the problems experienced on Springdale Avenue to a minority of people in the neighborhood.
“Its unfortunate that a small percentage may give the larger much more positive population a bad reputation,” Fry said.
For Jelks, cleaning up the neighborhood starts with cleaning up the trash. Jelks plans to use the Mayor’s next clean up day on Oct.14 to kick off the beautification effort.
“This is a main street. We want people to have a good impression of Meriden no matter what part of the city they are in,” she said.