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Selectmen oppose closure of Parker Village

January 30, 2013
LITTLETON — At Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting, Chairman Marghie Seymour read a letter that serves as a response to Brien Ward. He suggested in December that high crime rates at Parker Village created a public nuisance.

Ward's suggested closure of the complex led to a strong response from Parker Village management and residents. Dozens who live there, as well as town resident Bill Freeland, were at the last board meeting to refute Ward's suggestions.

Seymour said that Town Manager Fred Moody had developed the letter in draft. The response to Ward, agreed by the three Selectmen on Monday, announces new town policies related to the public housing project.

"After careful consideration of testimony," the letter states, the town has rejected Ward's idea. Closing the complex, and relocating residents, is an "unnecessary response to a somewhat elevated level" of police response to Parker Village, the town concludes.

The board's letter says that the town cannot definitely identify why the level of police response occurred at Parker Village. Selectmen did note, however, that additional steps provide a chance to work more closely with property managers and ownership.

Overall, the town has promised more communication with Parker Village managers and continued review of policies to protect the public.

Direct public safety changes are also planned at Parker Village. Video cameras are to be placed in exterior areas open to the public. Additionally, a neighborhood watch program will be set up. The board also expressed a desire for drug-free zone status for the complex.

Such items have been mentioned in meetings since Ward's public nuisance designation request back in December.

The police department's regular weekly press releases, the letter promises, "will be provided to the Parker Village management team." Multiple calls related to one individual or apartment will be noted in information submitted to management.

At the last meeting, onsite property manager Pauline Dinatale suggested that not all future bad behavior can be predicted through background checks. Nonetheless, the letter to Ward stresses the importance of the background check process. Also, Ward is informed that Parker Village will deny residency applications from those with pending charges stemming from an arrest.

Other actions that the board's letter promises include vegetative barriers around Parker Village, if neighbors request such a step. This action was not discussed at previous board meetings regarding the complex.

The Selectmen's letter did not promise an end to police calls at Parker Village. The board does believe, however, that the actions are a positive step to protect the public without the difficult process of relocating well over 100 people.

Stewart, Dinatale, and Freeland all attended Monday's meeting. Stewart said, "We have no objections to the content of the letter."

The town has promised to regularly evaluate issues at Parker Village. The letter to Ward said that other measures will be considered in the best interests of the town. Ward is thanked in the letter for his concern for Littleton and the residents of Parker Village.

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