Aldermen move to improve city streets

The Board of Aldermen voted Monday to crack down on the degradation of city streets and properties.

At the board meeting yesterday night, aldermen voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the anti-blight and property maintenance ordinances to set higher standards for the appearance of city streets and houses. Ward 15 Alderman Joseph Rodriguez and Ward 9 Alderman Roland Lemar said they sponsored this measure to improve neighborhood quality by addressing problem areas.

“This amendment will identify and address problem properties earlier in the process before new problems develop,” Lemar said.

Lemar explained that the Livable City Initiative, launched in 1996, will take authority in regulating problem properties by ensuring the maintenance of building exteriors and landscaping, the elimination of graffiti and street-side trash, and the removal of abandoned vehicles and shopping carts, among other things. Lemar said the amendment was necessary to clarify the existing ordinance’s standards.

“This amendment gives a broader definition of blight,” he said. “In the long term, we hope to stop streets from seeing complete abandonment and … stop blight before it happens.”

Rodriguez added that the new amendment will work by holding homeowners more responsible for the physical state of their properties.

Also during the meeting, Ward 23 Alderman Yusuf Shah requested that the proposal to designate a smoke-free zone surrounding the Hospital of Saint Raphael on Chapel St. be referred to committee. Lemar, who opposed the proposal, said that due to the lack of a public hearing about the implications of the smoke-free sidewalk boundaries, the proposal should not be passed. Shah disagreed.

“This is something that should be done in all health facilities,” Shah said. “I see this as a trend.”

Shah said there is precedent for the proposal; 14 Connecticut hospitals are currently smoke-free, including Yale-New Haven Hospital.

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