June 18, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
Two Hartford neighborhoods have been jointly recognized by the
U.S. Department of Justice as a "Weed and Seed" site,
a designation that opens the door to federal crime-fighting funding.
In becoming the only New England community to receive the recognition
in 2005, the Upper Albany and Clay-Arsenal neighborhoods will
together be given priority to participate in federally sponsored
training and are eligible to apply for federal Weed and Seed
funds, said Kevin J. O'Connor, U.S. attorney for Connecticut.
"This is a very integral step," he said, adding that
only one-third of all communities that apply for the status get
it. Communities that receive the designation almost always receive
funds, he said.
"We certainly are putting far more resources into Hartford
than any other city in the state, and it's because of a determination
that, right now, Hartford needs those resources," he said. "This
is a very good thing."
The Weed and Seed program aims to rid an area of violent crime
and then provide social and economic services to allow residents
to reclaim the neighborhood. According to O'Connor, the strategy
involves four principles: aggressive law enforcement strategies;
community policing; the use of crime prevention, intervention
and treatment services; and neighborhood restoration and revitalization.
The program generally provides a community with five years'
of funding totaling slightly more than $1 million - half spent
on law enforcement and half on community services, he said.
In 1994, the Stowe Village housing project in Hartford received
nearly $700,000 in Weed and Seed funding designed to curb drug
traffic and violence and return control of the community to its
residents. The Northeast neighborhood also received the designation,
but it had some hitches with the funding, O'Connor said.
In April 2004, Willimantic was designated as a Weed and Seed
site; one year later, it was promised $1 million in federal funding
over five years, the first $175,000 installment of which is to
arrive this summer.
"This official recognition is a credit to all of the community
representatives, merchants, educators, and others who have been
working so diligently on this project since early 2004," O'Connor
Members of the police department have spent the better part
of a year collecting and organizing information for a committee
set up to guide the application process, said the Rev. Donald
Steinle of the Christian Activities Council. Steinle served on
the committee as well.
"There are really two focuses," Steinle said. "One
is to provide some extra resources for policing, which is badly
needed. And, from my perspective, even more important is to try
to find a way to engage the youth in the neighborhood, find employment
opportunities ... and a way to try to get at the teenage violence,
which is just epidemic."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at