I don’t know how to not be snarky about this. It’s well-intended. It’s an area in dire need to love and care. Yet, I have my doubts about how thorough this section will be shined up, and how this effort will be maintained. After all, the small bank that had been “cleaned” a few weeks ago already contains litter; this visible spot with bright yellow flowers seems the easiest to maintain, but it’s openly neglected. It’s below a banner that declares “Hartford Cares.”
This area along Capitol Avenue has been one that has long caused me to bristle with resentment toward the mostly unhelpful 311 service, the irresponsible State of Connecticut, and various folks in the City of Hartford who are ready to pass the blame. Why should anyone want to address an area that reeks of urine and is so neglected that an abandoned sofa sat in plain view on the sidewalk for nearly two weeks before being moved, not to mention the numerous tires and other large trashed items that remain — for years — dumped behind a fence that is in remarkable disrepair? Why should anyone want to address a stretch of road that contains no street lighting, so that anyone trying to walk it at night has legitimate reason to worry? After writing about the iQuilt presentation, I find this matter even more infuriating. Bushnell Park is well-lit at night. An area of town that would be used more by residents than by visitors is dangerously dark, and seemingly not a priority to address. And I should know because I’ve often stumbled along the sidewalk here, unable to see what was underfoot, nevermind if someone was hanging out under the bridge. True, I could use Park Street instead, but I don’t think I’m being unreasonable by expecting a major thoroughfare to be usable after sunset.
So, I want to like this whole Corridor of Hope project. In the past month, I’ve seen a concrete wall get painted white, then painted yellow and blue with black swirls. Yellow flowers have been planted, a considerable amount of light litter (bottles and food wrappers) have been removed, and the sidewalks have been swept. But also in the process, two planks of wood have been removed from below the train bridge, which served a purpose — pedestrians could precariously walk on them instead of having to walk through the perma-puddle/perma-sludge that accumulates on the sidewalk to such an extent that one can’t easily tiptoe around it or leap over it. I don’t know who removed these somewhat bootleg bridges, but they served a purpose. Anyone who regularly walks the area would know that.
The next phase of the Corridor of Hope project is slated for this weekend:
Come together with a number of enthusiastic leaders to participate in a special LGH [Leadership Greater Hartford]– Hartford Cares Event on Saturday, July 18, 2009 from 8:30 am – 1:00 pm. Help sweep away debris, cut grass and plant flowers, as well as paint a hope-inspiring mural to create a Corridor of Hope on Capitol Avenue.
This event is a partnership with Knox Park Foundation and Hands on Hartford, and is supported by the City of Hartford and the Morningstar Fund of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
Again, this seems well-intended, but the work involved in truly fixing this area is going to require more commitment and more than just sweeping debris or light gardening. The turquoise toilet that I blogged about in mid-April is still in this spot, though it’s in several pieces now. There’s major trash to remove that will take more than a few rakes.
My hope is that this project is more than a feel-good initiative. My hope is that all parties involved understand that prettying something up on two or three occasions and then walking away does not, in fact, inspire hope in pedestrians who use this area. My hope is that more people begin to pressure the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford to actually care for this area, which both have wantonly neglected for years.