One of my biggest gripes about Waterbury is the litter and decay. There are a lot of properties that are either abandoned or have absentee landlords and messy tenants. The abandoned properties are the worst. They become dumping grounds almost overnight. I used to live next to two empty lots on Willow Street. The grass and weeds were usually so overgrown you couldn't see most of the trash that was everywhere. The owners of the lots hadn't paid taxes on them in years, and no one could buy the lots, because the back taxes owed were tied up in the TaxServe nightmare.
There are also properties that I assume are city owned--like the Welton Street School--which are just as abandoned and blighted as anything else. And there are untold miles of sidewalk that have deteriorated so much that they are unusable.
Last year there was a rash of graffiti that really angered city officials. It wasn't the content of the graffiti that angered them, it was just the existence of the graffiti. I didn't like the way the city handled the problem. Or, more accurately, I didn't like the way the city thought the graffiti was a bigger problem than the litter and decay.
There was a "litter summit" this past weekend. I'm hoping that the city will finally get their act together, get the city cleaned up, and keep it clean.
When visitors to the city see streets filled with litter and fences that are half falling down and rusted, they automatically assume that they are in a dangerous place. A well-maintained property inspires confidence and a feeling of safety. (Fixing up the City Hall building is tied into this--our shabby looking City Hall reflects the shabbiness of the city as a whole.)
Personally, I like some of the graffiti that's appeared lately (and I can't help but notice that most of the graffiti is showing up on properties that already look like hell). I'd like to see a little more creativity though. We've got two or three dedicated graffiti artists, and I know that there's a thing about leaving your tag, but it would be great if they came up with some new designs.
I've only got a couple examples of the graffiti photographed right now. If I ever get a little free time during the day, I'm going to do a drive through the city and snap some photos. One of my favorites is over near Waterville. It reads (in hot pink) "Peso no homo." Hot pink. There's a story there.