NEWARK -Senator Ronald L. Rice released the following statement today after a shooting at a troubled apartment complex in Newark last night which left a five-year-old boy injured.
“The shooting at Garden Spires is just another example of living conditions that continue to deteriorate at the complex. I have had it with the slum-like conditions that are being perpetuated in housing facilities throughout this State. I am irate at the fact that the Garden Spires complex, located at 175-195 First Street in Newark, is continually the site of tragedy, violence and sub-standard living conditions.
“Last year, a deadly incident at the Garden Spires complex inspired me to successfully strengthen my previous window guard law. This complex was the site of the tragic death of five-year old Zahir Atkins, who fell from a unit in the complex despite the fact that the unit had window guards installed.
“This complex has repeatedly been the site for shootings, drug deals, and other crimes. Last night, a five year old was grazed by a bullet while playing in the courtyard of the facility. I refuse to sit back and allow more incidents of crime at this complex. I don’t want citizens’ lives, especially children’s, to be in any further danger. I want this building to be re-inspected from floor to ceiling, and I want necessary improvements to be made immediately.
“Numerous safety issues and concerns have been brought up by the tenants at Garden Spires, but they have fallen on deaf ears. The owner of Garden Spires has allowed living conditions in this complex to deteriorate for far too long. No one has stepped up and taken real responsibility for the problems at the complex and acted on them.
“It’s time for someone else to step in and get things done. I am setting up a meeting with the State Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the local government to address the issues that surround the Garden Spires complex.
“In 2004, I sponsored a receivership law with Governor Codey that would allow someone to come in, take charge and manage a building if the building is in disrepair. I say that if the current owner is unable to improve the living conditions at the Garden Spires complex, then we will find someone who can.”