Norwich - An open, grassy field on Brook Street where the Public Works headquarters used to stand has become a venue for youth violence and drug deals and even a dumping ground for a gun in recent months.
"I get calls about it all the time," Mayor Peter Nystrom said Friday morning at the newly mowed field.
Nystrom called a special City Council meeting in the field Friday morning and invited representatives from public works, the police department and the neighborhood. No neighbors attended, although Alderman H. Tucker Braddock said he had knocked on doors and talked to about 10 residents prior to the meeting.
Braddock said elderly residents want to feel safe walking in the field without worrying about stepping on broken glass, garbage or discarded drug paraphernalia. Some said they'd like it if their children were safe to play there.
Residents do use the area frequently for dog walking but when the sun sets, problems arise.
Police Capt. Patrick Daley said that about two months ago, police were called when someone heard shots fired on nearby Baltic Street. The suspect fled to the Brook Street field and discarded the gun there, where police recovered it.
Surveying the field, Alderman Mark Bettencourt noticed one old streetlight pole with no bulb and another without a light fixture.
Public Works Director Barry Ellison said he would contact Norwich Public Utilities about restoring the lights. Another suggestion was to erect signs saying the park is closed after sunset. A garbage can also will be placed at the field.
The park already has well defined boundaries, including a tall retaining wall along one side and a fence - although the fence is bent back at one end. Nystrom suggested the site could become the city's second dog park, with a separate area segregated as a children's play area. Jaskiewicz said another idea could be to create a sand volleyball court.
"You have to be careful what you do here without talking to the neighbors first," Alderwoman Sofee Noblick said.
Nystrom said he would like to call a meeting soon with neighbors and encourage residents to form a neighborhood watch group as well.