Spear Park in Middletown has seen better days. The concrete fountain facing Main Street is broken and now the city is taking steps to tear it down and replace it with grass.
“The line of site through the park is obstructed by the structures in the front,” Mayor Daniel Drew said. “From the street you can’t see what’s going on in the center of the park and we’ve had a few issues with public drunkenness.”
The people who frequent the park say those issues have been overstated.
“There’s nothing more drastic going on now than there has been as long as I’ve been around,” Brian Cushing said. “Is there crime here in the park? There’s crime everywhere in Middletown.”
Cushing acknowledged that excessive drinking frequently takes place at the park. When NBC Connecticut visited Spear Park on Wednesday morning, an ambulance arrived within an hour so paramedics could take care of men who were so intoxicated they were unable to stand up.
“They do need help and we have a robust social service network here,” Drew said. “Our police department regularly interfaces with the hospital so we try to balance getting people help and enforcing the law.”
Bob Norige says there’s no real crime that takes place in the park besides a few “troublemakers.” During a game of setback with three of his friends Norige said the city is overstating the problems at this downtown park.
“There’s not crime," Norige said. “What the crime is is the insolence and idiocy that I’m seeing from the people who are trying to enforce laws on people who have been paying their taxes their whole life.”
Drew says he will work with the city council and the Housing Authority to make the park a safer place for residents.