To the Editor:
The Woodin Street Fence committee members met on Friday, Sept 13 to update neighbors on the progress of discussions between New Haven, who has requested the fence be removed, and Hamden residents who would like the fence to stay put. New Haven would also like to complete construction of a roadway which would increase traffic in the Woodin Street area.
Overall the meeting was civil with everyone who wanted to speak was given a chance to be heard. I estimated there were about 125 folks in the crowd from diverse backgrounds and ethnicity. Only three people spoke in favor of removing the fence.
The three points made for the removal of the fence were: 1) the area by the fence is dark and appeared threatening, 2) fence appears to be a caging people in an enclosure and 3) prejudice.
The overwhelming response to the arguments can be summarized as 1) lights can help with the dark areas along the fence, 2) the fence was not a cage and there were entry and exit points besides Woodin Street and 3) crime and the unsustainable traffic that will be generated from the planned SCSU parking garage egress and not prejudice was the primary motivating drive behind retention of the fence.
My impression of the proceedings was that people living in the area simply do not trust the current administration. They believe Mayor Scott Jackson has neither willingness nor desire to represent the will of the people most affected by the removal of the fence.
Moreover, they do not believe the police can help with the expected increase in rising crime resulting from the removal of the fence. There were several stories of the police unable to help motorists who experienced their windows being shot out by a BB gun. The folks simply feel they are going it alone with no one coming to their aid. Many have long memories of past experiences and are unwilling to repeat history.
Bob Anthony, the Republican candidate for mayor, received a thunderous applause from the crowd when he spoke on the issue. He argued in favor of retaining the fence and well understood the problems from his youth growing up in the area. Many in the crowd repeated over and over again that the elections are in November and that the time to let your vote count.
Ultimately, I believe this will end up in court and that the next mayor will have to be committed to retaining the fence. If not, the fence will most certainly be removed.