James Williams wants his neighborhood to be the way it used to be.
“It was a good neighborhood, quiet. You might see one car an hour,” said the Mississippi native, who moved to Bloomfield in 1979 to work for Pratt & Whitney.
But in the past several years, the neighborhood, known as Pershing Park, has started going downhill in the view of Williams and other longtime residents.
Over the past year Bloomfield police have responded to dozens of complaints on Jackson Road, including more than two dozen noise complaints at two residences, according to department records.
Formal reports of improper parking in the neighborhood have also increased.
To the residents, some of whom are members of the Pershing Park Neighborhood Group, noise and parking are at the heart of what they see as a deterioration of the quality of life in their part of town.
Bloomfield Police Chief Paul Hammick acknowledged that the number of noise complaints in Pershing Park in the past year was unusual because they generally are associated with college students renting in town, which is not the case on Jackson Road.
But Hammick also defended the department’s response to the number of calls it has received, saying that in many cases the complaints did not warrant police action or zoning enforcement.
“The degree to which we are enforcing noise ordinances and what the neighborhood group wants are different,” Hammick said. “It’s a matter of being reasonable. There has to be a point where we are not acting as the agent for the [complaining] neighbor.”
Tighter noise ordinances adopted by the town council in August, should help, especially since a noise meter will be in use.
“It will give us a more objective criteria,” Hammick said. “But that does not mean zero tolerance.”
The group also wrote a letter to the town council in August regarding quality of life issues, including noise, overnight parking and blight. The letter noted that they had met several times without getting action on their complaints. In October, they sent another letter to the town council sarcastically thanking them for “showing their true color,” in not taking action.
Mike Kosilla, the town’s zoning enforcement officer, said part of the difficulty is that the group’s definition of blight may not be the same as his, such as a snow plow at the end of a driveway.
“I’m pretty comfortable with any decision I make,” he said. “But I can’t make stuff up.”
Kosilla said decisions on filing a blight complaint with housing court revolve around health and safety issues, not just because something isn’t pleasing to the eye.
“If I have to enforce everything I don’t like to look at there are going to be a lot of unhappy people in town,” he said.
As for the Pershing Park group, Kosilla, who gave warnings to two Jackson Road residents in July for unregistered vehicles on their property which were promptly removed, said he’ll work with them to a point.
“We’re happy to work with the neighborhood group,” he said. “But they’ve kind of put up a wall because we’re not telling them what they want to hear.”