MERIDEN — David Sunshine routinely checks the surveillance monitors from the cameras at Community Towers at 55 Willow St.
“It’s constant,” Sunshine told the Meriden Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Monday evening. “Every time I look up it’s one thing or another. I’m a little fearful of what’s going to happen with the cold weather coming up.”
Sunshine is the Resident Services Director for the Meriden Housing Authority. In addition to providing meal programs and other supports for the elderly and disabled residents, he is now a security guard of sorts. He sees drug dealing at the towers regularly, he said, as well as fights, trespassing and prostitution.
The Meriden Housing Authority continues to seek bids for a study to determine whether it should renovate the 45-year-old towers or raze them and rebuild. To date it’s only received a paltry response. But Executive Director Robert Cappelletti repeated that security on the property is now the MHA’s biggest concern.
“We”ve cut down barriers that people were hiding behind,” Cappelletti said. “But the residents are still letting people in. I don’t know how we’re going to address that.”
The lot clearing has helped rid the exterior of trespassers, but the colder weather could bring them inside.
Commission members questioned the liability for anyone who lets in unruly visitors who engage in illegal activity. Cappelletti said the resident is liable for any damage caused by a visitor.
In addition to clearing vacant land near the property, the MHA has installed new doors and cameras, and has asked police for more patrols in the area. Sunshine suggested police overtime to help keep the area safe.
Police have responded to 200 incidents reported at 55 Willow St. since the start of the year. But that includes every different type of call from extra checks, officers on foot patrol, and EMS calls, said police spokesman Darrin McKay.
Police officials could not be reached on how overtime duties might be assigned and paid for.
In other business, the housing authority could be in line for funding to rehabilitate Johnson Farms moderate income housing in South Meriden. The project is administered by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and state funding could be available in two years, Cappelletti said.