New London Business Owners Looking to Clean Up Downtown Blight

Chipped paint and moldy awnings are among other signs of blight business owners in downtown New London do not want to be associated with.

Members of the New London City Center District (CCD) made a list of businesses they inspected on State Street and Bank Street. They believe some buildings are violating the city’s new blight ordinance and they handed the list off to New London’s blight inspector to follow up.

"Because of so many empty storefronts and what appears to be abandoned properties," Charlotte Hennegan, owner of Thames River Greenery and Thames River Wine & Spirits on State Street, said. 

Hennegan is the vice president of the CCD which is comprised of about 150 buildings in the downtown business district. The group is collecting additional taxes by all property owners in the district. The store owner is also part of the group’s new blight committee.

"There’s a true vitality of business and living in downtown New London. We just have to showcase it," Hennegan said.

New London Blight Inspector Kenyon Haye said there are more than 20 storefronts on State and Bank streets in violation of the city’s blight ordinance. 

Haye has been conducting routine inspections and reaching out to make sure property owners fix any violations. 

"A main issue with a lot of these buildings is stripping and peeling paint. But with it being winter right now, there’s very little that can be done," Haye said.

Haye said he’s gotten about 90 percent compliance, so far, which includes word from several property owners that they will be doing work as the weather warms up.

The blight inspector mentioned the removal of a moldy awning atop the former Lola’s Fashion store at the corner of State and Bank streets and the Salvation Army taking the sign off its former Bank Street storefront and posting 'No Dumping' signs on its rear, to let people know they’re no longer taking donations there.

If property owners don’t comply, Haye said he can enforce civil penalties of $100 a day or ask police to enforce criminal penalties that could reach $250 a day. 

New London Main Street launched a Light Up New London initiative to put lights in downtown storefronts to make the area more inviting and comfortable at night.

"Because the storefronts are dark and any time that there’s darkness, people just don’t feel welcome walking around in the evening," Kristin Havrilla Clarke, New London Main Street’s executive director, said.

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