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Controversial fence dividing neighborhoods in Hamden/New Haven torn down

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Crews work to remove the fence. (WFSB photo) Crews work to remove the fence. (WFSB photo)
HAMDEN, CT (WFSB) -

Work crews removed a controversial fence that split two shoreline communities for more than half a century Monday. 

The 10-foot fence, which was built in the 1950s, along the Hamden and New Haven line was meant to keep out crime of the suburbs, according to local officials. Over the years, the fence was made thicker, stronger and taller.

Many neighbors said they referred to it as the "Berlin Wall."

The New Haven Public Housing Authority planned to sue Hamden over the fence on civil rights grounds. However, both parties came to an agreement in federal mediation last week.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp called the wall coming down a "celebration."

"Today I am very excited that the fence that has separated an inconvenienced and intimidated residence, all these years is coming down," Harp said.

In the 1950s, neighbors on the Hamden side complained about crime coming from the housing authority residents and visitors on the New Haven side. Once it was put up, they said the crime stopped.

Over the years, the neighborhood changed.

The removal of the fence started late Monday morning.

The housing authority said thanks to new projects, the area became mixed income. With the fence completely down, there are plans to build new roads which would give residents better access to bus lines and shopping.

"If you want to go to a Hamden shopping center you have to walk all the way over there, go through downtown, and get on another bus," said April Roger Lahai Pearson, of New Haven. "So if they rip the fence down, and build a road—you can go through. It's right over there."

Monday's wall removal was step toward drawing newly-built public housing units closer to the community.

"They're clean, they are well kept," Harp said. "We know that it works because we've done it before."

The city and town both promise more police patrols, but people in Hamden have concerns. Town councilman Mike Calciaicovo said his phone hasn't stopped ringing since the decision was made.

"Hundreds and hundreds of phone calls from people in the neighborhood, they feel they were robbed of their process," Calciaicovo said.

"We're not happy," said mother Ebone Phillips, of Hamden. "And all the traffic that's going to be coming in and out, is not going to be good."

On the New Haven side, the outlook seems brighter.

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