Fence Separates Hamden, New Haven Physically And Emotionally

A controversial fence will soon be no more after five decades separating the city of New Haven and the town of Hamden.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp plans to meet with contractors Tuesday morning to draw up plans to tear the fence out.

She calls the fence “morally reprehensible” because she said it causes unnecessarily long detours for New Haven residents trying to get to Hamden. It currently prevents New Haven’s Wilmont Road from connecting to Hamden’s Woodin Street.  Harp also said the metal barrier is a safety hazard should flooding occur.

Meanwhile, Hamden residents criticized their town officials Monday night, questioning how this removal could “all of a sudden” happen.

“I’d like to know who the city planner was who committed to opening the roads,” said Christine Burton, a Hamden homeowner, fired up at the meeting.

“This seems to have come out of the blue. This seems to have come out of no place,” said another resident.

The fence has blocked Hamden’s Woodin Street from a public housing project in New Haven for a half a century. Those projects have since closed, but Hamden homeowners told council members they fear losing their metal barricade will spur crime and other issues when the now-blocked Wilmont Road opens up.

“I ask this committee, if you can, do something to prevent that fence from coming down because that increases the traffic and they’re also going to be speeding down Woodin Street,” said Joan Howell, another Hamden resident.

The metal fence winds along property located in Hamden and New Haven, but Harp says property rights belong to the New Haven Housing Authority.

“As part of a mediation that occured in federal court, it’s really clear that the fence is our fence,” said Harp, referring to a mediation that occurred as part of a lawsuit filed by the New Haven Housing Authority against the Town of Hamen.

“The public want answers,” said Burton, who aked her Hamden town officials for proof of ownership.

Others asked if anything else can be done to this undoing of 50 years of history.

“I ask you to please, if you have it in your power, to make a change or stop this from happening. Please help us and do so,” said Maria Negron.

Scott Jackson, Hamden’s mayor, published a letter on Monday that called the New Haven border of town, “one of the poorest and most dangerous places in our region in which to live, or live near.”

The letter (read it here: Mayor-Jackson-letter) tells residents he hoped to go through a full public forum process, but the lawsuit changed things. “We do not have any authority to prevent the Housing Authority from taking down a fence on their property,” Jackson writes.

He goes on to say that Hamden is committed to addressing the concerns of its citizens, including the implementation of community bike patrols, the establishment of a police substation with New Haven and Hamden officers and the planning of traffic safety improvements.

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