Finch Launches ‘Help Fight Blight’ Campaign–Effort To Shame Negligent Property Owners

UPDATE: Three weeks from the Nov. 6 election and a ballot question that if approved by voters would give the mayor the power to appoint school board members, Bill Finch is kicking up his visibility throughout the city including an announcement today of a program designed “to shame property owners into cleaning up their properties and paying the fines.”

“Blighted properties are a drag on the neighborhood,” says Finch. “Abandoned houses become magnets for illegal dumping and crime, and are a health risk to the residents who live nearby. We need everyone’s help–if you know the people who own these properties, call our BConnected citizens service number–203.576.1311–and help us find the negligent owners.”

blight ad
One of the ads running in the "local daily beginning tomorrow" according to the mayor's office, presumably the Connecticut Post.

The mayor says the city is fighting back against negligent property owners who allow their properties to fall into disrepair. Finch says some of the worst offenders will be featured in newspaper advertisements.

To Kick off the “Help Fight Blight” campaign Christopher Rosario, the City’s Anti-Blight Director has targeted 121 George Street, 62-64 Read Street and 189-191 Arctic Street. Working with several city departments, Rosario was instrumental in cleaning up a garbage-marred lot at 848 Maplewood Avenue next to Bryant School near the location of a three-year-old girl was shot walking with her mother this spring. The lot is tracking to become a housing development for Habitat for Humanity.

(See video provided by former City Councilman Joel “Speedy” Gonzalez who includes narration of city Department of Public Works crews cleaning the messy lot.)

Finch says other properties have already been cleaned up as well, through the City’s recently initiated “Clean and Lien Program.” The campaign will continue to target more properties throughout the city in the coming weeks.

MariAn Gail Brown of the Connecticut Post provides a different slant on the anti-blight campaign that targeted a community garden.

See her story here.

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15 comments

  1. Ah!!! Another election period is fast approaching. How do we know this? Well the mayor is trotting out that old chestnut Blight and dumping. I have a question, why did it take Chris Rosario and his crew so long to find that garbage-strewn lot on Maplewood Ave? The amount of debris there did not happen overnight.
    We pay people in the blight unit to ride around the city and find these dumps. What have they been doing? How many properties have been cleaned up? How many properties have had liens placed against them? Hey Bill, if the people you have on staff can’t find the owners give me the addresses and I will find them for a small finder’s fee. All the information you need to find out who owns a property is in the town clerk’s office.
    BTW how does a community garden that’s in use become a blighted property? Could this be another Finch administration vendetta against Mr. Halstead?

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  2. How do I get that truck over to the corner of Atlantic and Myrtle? The sidewalk is impassable because of weeds. The garbage, broken chain link fences, barbed wire and broken glass only add to the ambiance. I will again mention I have joined fellow South End residents in asking our Council members to assess the condition of the dilapidated factories on our side of I95 … needless to say nothing in the way of progress to report. I can provide pictures (it looks like that Mel Gibson movie Mad Max: Road Warrior), or I would be happy to give folks a guided tour. It is basically the route I walk my dogs. Wild what UB is surrounded by. My biggest concern is the potential for a massive fire like the one a few months back on Railroad Ave.

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  3. It’s about time they got something like this going!!! There is way too much blight across the city and these negligent homeowners are to blame. I say we knock these things down and build parks in their place. We are the Park City after all!!! One can dream!!!

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  4. The photo shown here is a disgrace. Why has the city allowed this property to get this bad in the first place? The junk that has collected here didn’t happen overnight; where were the city inspectors? Put a lien on this property, use the city computer systems including the PD and motor vehicle records to find these dirt bags.

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  5. We have had blight officials/positions in City government for every year of the Finch administration. If you have been part of neighborhood volunteer governance (like an NRZ or homeowner group) you know you could expire of boredom between a call going into the City and a remedy including real consequences appears.

    The Mayor controls the spotlight, doesn’t he? Why is it turned on at this moment? Perhaps it is so he can get around to neighborhoods, be seen in person and on video (and push his Charter question), maybe? What would stand for ACCOUNTABILITY is to see a comprehensive listing of all of the complaints about blight made to the City over the past five years (the FINCH YEARS). What citations were made? Fines totaled? Actions taken in what time period? After forgiveness of some penalties, which is a common action, what was the amount actually paid in financial penalties by offending property owners? Look at that record, if the City bothers to create such a listing. See whether the time between complaint and remedy seems reasonable. See if the financial penalties are real or a sham. Blight lowers property values as do zoning infringements. But each of these problems seem to roll forward in terms of years or decades it seems. So a get-tough attitude in mid-October (without a format that CitiStat should be able to cobble together quickly) seems to be an example of Mayoral “fist pumping” without substance. It took the Mayor four years to figure out how to take over the school system (without any metrics of accountability–if you let the YES vote predominate) and the previous “sleepy OPED director” may not have understood the importance of this departmental function. So the Mayor is in charge of this initiative? What a busy executive! How will he ever have time to make all of the appointments, folks? Time will tell.

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    1. Gee JML, I would hesitate to call you naive but if the Mayor steps up blight control and does lots of good things–real quick in the next couple of weeks–wouldn’t you give him your vote so he could appoint BOE members? Just saying we haven’t seen this particular bully pulpit since the last primary season.

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      1. Baffled,
        FINCH: If the noise from NO to the Charter Coalition is getting too loud, Adam, what could I do quickly to get media attention off of the Charter question and on to a different subject?
        WOOD: Bill, you can talk about “blighted lots and property” that will get 100% support and has no down side because it’s someone else’s headache, not yours. These things take time, and as long as there is no ‘scoreboard’ or ‘report card,’ there is no official accountability. Why you don’t even have a named Board or Commission on the subject, do you?
        FINCH: You’re right Adam. Plenty of visual material, good for TV and ‘twittering,’ and who wants to support absentee property owner rights or folks who grow vegetables in community gardens anyway?

        Baffled, last night October 15, our City Council received a copy of the August City of Bridgeport financial report for the first time. NOT THE FOURTH FRIDAY OF SEPTEMBER or seven to ten days turnaround seen near the end of the last fiscal year and outlined in the Charter revision!!! There is that question of ACCOUNTABILITY I keep raising. The Budget & Appropriations apparently postponed their October meeting to later in the month so they would have something to discuss.
        I will commend the Finance Office for providing a much better layout and multi-year information. There has been no real discussion of this in Committee, so it was either formatted the way it is done in many Cities by Anne Kelly-Lenz’s department unilaterally, or in collaboration with B&A behind the scenes. OIB take a look at this current report. No variances yet noted. The Legislative Department has an employee listed in the budget. You may remember the Council voted to EXCISE both of their employees in May. When was the Approved Budget amended for this purpose? What gives?
        Baffled, the Mayor has lost my vote for Charter change because of overall lack of ACCOUNTABILITY in too many areas of municipal governance. Hope you can see the blight media blast does not move my needle very much. Time will tell.

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  6. I invite any of you to take a ride by the old Dog Pound at the end of Asylum St. The place is a dump! Blight City! Shouldn’t the city clean up its own blighted properties before it goes after other properties? Only In Bridgeport! Hey Rosario, what do you say? Good intentions but a joke. Bill, get your house in order first, you chowderhead!

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  7. What the city needs to do first is form a committee like Joe Ganim did back when I challenged him. Background: not long after getting elected mayor, Joe Ganim ran in a 26 Mile Marathon in Bridgeport. Remember that, Lennie? I think you were his waterboy that day.
    The media made a big deal out of this event. Weeks later, a young Puerto Rican nerd named Joel Gonzalez did a 24-hour solo marathon cleaning up the Jenkins Valve area. The Post and Channel 12 news covered the event and I challenged the mayor to take on the blight around Bridgeport in a marathon style. I was contacted by the city to join a committee and I believed it was called clean sweep. The committees project evolved into the Clean and Green effort and the committee dissolved when Patrick Coyne (remember him?) took over under Ganim’s control. We set up neighborhood cleaning groups, but it was almost impossible to get people to clean their own streets. People from Black Rock and the North End showed up to clean the West and East Side. The more clean-ups we did the fewer people showed up. I suggested we reach out to gangs to encourage them to get involved in a positive way. I was overruled by the committee as they didn’t understand people were too afraid to come out to these rundown areas. The committee stopped having meetings and I went solo and on my first cleanup with my formed group, 75 Latin Kings joined me. We did 3 cleanup efforts with a combined total of about 240 Latin Kings. I got elected to the City Council with Finch and 18 others members who supported the Clean and Green effort. Ganim and Patrick Coyne went to prison in a scandal that involved the Clean and Green asbestos removal of abandoned buildings.
    The City should form a citizens committee and concentrate in generating revenue while keeping the streets clean. How? The fine for littering is what, $300? We have guys giving parking tickets all over downtown. Let’s go after those littering from motor vehicle$$$ for a change. I wonder when the last time was someone was caught and fined for littering? Set up littering traps like one sets up a traffic trap.

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  8. The Mayor’s propaganda machine is at it again! I’ve come to expect there is not one thing this man does that is not manipulative toward his concept most people in Bridgeport are apathetic and naive. This latest ploy is aimed at those on the fence who may be the tipping point against him. This rush of window-dressing is designed to give those folks a whiff of good happening without really looking into it then going about their daily routines fat, dumb and happy. Just keep in mind there are hundreds of vacant, blighted properties in this City that have been ignored in the Finch years. That ability to go onto vacant properties, clean them then lien them has been around forever. It was used by the City extensively during the Ganim years. Eureka!!!

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  9. *** On the top ten list for blight negligence should be the city of Bpt with all the foreclosed property they own or refuse to foreclose on (industrial sites) so they don’t have to be responsible for cleanups! *** SHAME ON YOU! ***

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