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Fear rules at Ashton

By MICHELLE FIRESTONE

Chronicle Staff Writer

WILLIMANTIC — Members of the John J. Ashton Tower/Wilbur Cross Apartments Residents’ Association have reached out to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for answers related to security concerns.

Some, for example, claim there are not enough security cameras and others claim they are concerned about non-residents staying at the complex.

Some of the security concerns came to light after the homicide of Ashton Tower resident William Alvarado, 73, who was found dead in his apartment on Sept. 7, 2016.

According to the chief medical examiner’s office, Alvarado died from stab wounds to the neck as well as injuries to his arteries, trachea and lungs.

No arrest has been made in connection with the homicide.

During an association meeting earlier this week, John J. Ashton Tower/Wilbur Cross Apartments Residents’ Association President Sam Matos said, despite the homicide, he feels safe at Ashton Tower and feels “our needs are being met.”

He said he feels the housing authority is “doing all it can to accommodate us and make this a safe place to live.”

Some tenants, however, disagree with Matos.

A representative from HUD was expected to attend the meeting to provide information to residents, but did not.

State Rep. Susan Johnson, D-Willimantic, however, did attend, stating she came to hear residents’ concerns.

“It’s been a year since we had that (homicide) here and we want to make sure there’s better security and I know there’s still some complaints about that,” she said.

Willimantic Housing Authority Executive Director Kimberly Haddad and a representative from HUD could not be reached for comment Friday.

Though she was not able to attend the latest meeting, Matos said Haddad is expected to attend the association’s meeting in December.

One resident who expressed security concerns during the meeting is Ashton Tower resident Jane Howeson.

“I am small and female and do most of my activities alone” or with her dog, she said.

Howeson said she will not do her laundry at night for safety reasons.

“There are a lot of people visiting the building that are unknown entities,” Howeson said.

She also added the murder had not been solved “and that’s all I’ll say on that issue, but I’d like to say more.”

Ashton Tower resident Pat Hartley said residents have padlocks on their doors and security cameras “but not on all the floors.”

“All I want is safety,” she said. “That’s all I ask, and a little more cleanliness.”

The housing authority did put in new security cameras after Alvarado was killed.

Some residents, however, feel the housing authority isn’t doing enough.

Johnson said she was hopeful someone from HUD would come speak to the association.

“We need to make sure that we are able to get the same resources that other housing complexes have,” she said.

Johnson said she would work with Matos to address residents’ concerns and they would see if the police could speak with the association.

In addition to security concerns, members of the residents association have expressed concerns in the past about the elevators at Ashton Tower, which have been out-of-order regularly.

 

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