By John Anderson

At a special meeting of the Auburn Housing Authority yesterday afternoon, safety was on the minds of Pakachoag Village residents. Agenda items listed tenant parking, fire safety and safety/security concerns, and Auburn Detective Sergeant Scott Mills spoke first.

Detective Sargeant Scott Mills addresses Pakachoag Village residents during a safety meeting held by the Auburn Housing Authority. ©2016 John R. Anderson

Detective Sargeant Scott Mills addresses Pakachoag Village residents during a safety meeting held by the Auburn Housing Authority. ©2016 John R. Anderson

He warned the residents, “You’re an easy population because you’re trusting” and he gave some tips for avoiding scams and enhancing security. Mills stressed the concept of community policing and asked the residents to call the police department if they think something isn’t right.

For its part, the Housing Authority has installed video surveillance cameras and will be hiring police details to patrol the complex. The days and hours of these details were appropriately not divulged. This reaction follows allegations of drug activity within the complex and meetings with the Police Chief and Town Manager.

Several residents expressed their frustration with alleged harassment by a resident that has not been resolved to their satisfaction. One resident told the Authority, “We should feel safe here, and we don’t.” The community room at Pakachoag Village was nearly filled to capacity as residents showed their interest and concerns. One resident suggested there be a resident manager on site at all times “to see what’s happening when it’s happening.”

Executive Director Lori Brennan reminded residents that it is difficult to deny an applicant because of state and federal guidelines. She also stated that some elderly residents have invited relatives to live in their units which is against the rules and has become a growing issue.

Firefighter/Paramedic Tess DiDonato spoke about heeding the warnings of fire alarms. She said, “We need you to practice getting out” and asked that residents look out for each other during times of emergencies. Although all Housing Authority properties are smoke free, some residents continue to break the rules. A concern for open flames, including candles, will be on the agenda for the next meeting.

Parking issues at Pakachoag Village also resulted in significant frustration and debate. Brennan said there are no assigned spaces for resident parking although tenant, guest and handicapped spaces are clearly marked. Some people described letters being left on cars by someone who was upset about another’s parking spot, but this is a moot point without assigned parking. A soon to be added space in the rear lot soothed many hard feelings.

Authority Chairman Wayne Page often took the “can’t we all just get along” approach during this meeting. It would be nice, but only time will tell.