ANSONIA, Conn. (WTNH) — The owner of Big Apple Motel’s bid to bring a motel to Ansonia has drawn strong opposition. We speak to business owners and residents who say they are dead-set against it.
Ansonia Alderman Chicago Rivers doesn’t mince words when it comes to an economic proposal in his district, which includes Wakelee Avenue, right off Route 8.
“Dead set against it,” he said.
Alderman Rivers talked to News 8 about a businessman’s plan to purchase property and turn the existing building into a motel, gas station, and restaurant. Alderman Rivers isn’t the only one speaking out against it.
So is Ansonia activist, Matthew McGowan. As of the filing of this report, his online petition against the project has grown to over 600 signatures.
“If you look at the motel industry at large, it is rife with sex trafficking, drug trafficking, and other violent crimes,” he said.
Another contributing factor, some say, is the man who’s trying to buy the property. It’s the same person who owns The Big Apple Motel on W. Main Street in Waterbury. The Big Apple Motel was the scene of a violent protest last summer when word spread online in the Waterbury community about an alleged sex trafficking incident involving a teenage girl there.
Waterbury Police tell News 8 their investigation into that did not yield any factual evidence. Today, they also told News 8 there have been 882 police and fire calls to the motel since 2015, with 57 arrests for things like drug violations, larceny, assaults, weapons violations, and disorderly conduct.
That worries parents in Ansonia like Melissa Haas. Her teenage son plays baseball at nearby Nolan Field.
“This is a family area,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of social media posts on the community page for Ansonia. I haven’t seen anyone who’s for this.”
“We do not need that kind of crime coming into Ansonia,” said Alderman Rivers.
News 8 spent time talking with the owner of The Big Apple Motel. He declined to speak on camera. But, he told us off-camera that he does not believe his motel attracts crime. He also showed News 8 some of the measures in place to discourage criminal activity. There are several surveillance cameras and they request that everyone seeking lodging provide an ID.
Monday night, Ansonia’s Planning and Zoning Commission will be holding a virtual public forum to hear from Ansonia’s residents before they determine whether to grant approval or deny it. Even before the meeting, Alderman Rivers told News 8 many of his constituents do not approve of this type of economic development.
“There’s a lot of people all over Ansonia that will speak tonight against having this motel here,” said Alderman Rivers.