Frustrated by rising crime, vandalism and neglect from City Hall, a downtown property owner this week lashed out at Mayor Art Ward.
Philip Vonella, who owns two North Main Street properties, said he’s witnessing ever more drug dealing, “questionable characters,” drunks, vandalism and other unsavory activities happening downtown.
“I will not accept what is going on,” Vonella said, adding that he would hold Ward responsible for failing to take action. “People are afraid.”
Vonella said that he tried three times to get Ward on the phone in the past month but the mayor “never afforded me the respect of a phone call” in return.
Ward said he would talk with top city leaders soon to see what can be done to crack down on problems along North Main Street.
The mayor said he tried to return one of Vonella’s calls but couldn’t reach him. He said, though, that he made sure that department heads called the businessman each time to address specific complaints.
Police Chief John DiVenere backed up the mayor’s version.
He said in an email that Vonella “was completely out of line” in blasting the mayor. He said he called Vonella a few weeks ago at the mayor’s direction.
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