New Life for the Pump House Gallery

The Pump House on the edge of Bushnell Park has been closed for a few years. In past incarnations, it has been a cafe and a grill, in addition to a gallery.

On August 26th, there will be an art opening at the Pump House Gallery. Before this happens, the building and grounds will need some sprucing up.

This morning, community volunteers began to remove weeds and overgrown vegetation from the patio that faces Pulaski Circle.

Inside the building, volunteers began to clean and refresh the movable canvas walls which art will be mounted on later. A more thorough clean up of the park will be happening on Thursday, August 26th during the Week of the Parks. Attending to the overgrown hedges around the Pump House is one of the items on the City’s to do list for late August. Continue reading “New Life for the Pump House Gallery”

Please follow and like:

“You Can Call Me Al”

This is a peek into Als Market & Deli, which is under construction.
This is a peek into Al's Market & Deli, which is under construction

It was previously noted that Al’s Market and Deli would be opening on Asylum Street in Hartford. What I did not know then was the extent of this development.

Last night, on Asylum Street, I overheard a considerably irritated man grousing: “what the *bleep* do I have to do to get a bodega sandwich?!”

The Hartford Business Journal reports that this market will have hours that actually acknowledge the existence of city residents: weekdays 7am to 10 or 11pm and weekends until 3am. So, if you need yourself a bodega sandwich at 9pm, you’ll soon be able to get one.

The Hartford Courant also has published about the grocery store.

Please follow and like:

Hartford Treasures on Display

History nerds should stop by the third floor of the  Hartford Public Library before September 30th. There is an array of materials on display, from photographs to books to old posters advertising “ponderous” events.

Among the most interesting, to me, were the photographs of famous women from Connecticut.  There were also images and artifacts related to the circus fire.

Another area of interest is the display created by Hartford Prints. Hartford Public High School students selected historical photographs to interpret and link to the future. One example of this is a picture of visitors to Elizabeth Park. The interpretation is a print in which a woman’s dress has changed form to “soften” her a bit, and then her umbrella is printed in a deep pink, which has been noted as being a completely modern color.

The exhibit is free.

Please follow and like:

Had Ourselves a J

J is nestled in Barry Square just outside of the Frog Hollow and South Green neighborhoods. It’s near Hartford Hospital, CT Valley Girl Scouts, and across from the Children’s Medical Center. It’s not far from Trinity College or Downtown. It’s about a mile from my house, and Google Maps tells me that it takes five minutes to get there, whether I drive or ride my bike. In spite of its accessibility to me, I had never visited the restaurant until last Wednesday.

Because we had made reservations, we were seated immediately. The waitstaff were attentive, which is not always the case at restaurants when part of a party shows up before the rest. I stuck with the non-alcoholic beverages for the evening, but given that our group sought several refills of the same type of wine, my assumption is that they found something good. The house wines were priced at $25 per bottle, but others ran from $25-63.

The Taste of Hartford menu here was among the more impressive in terms of vegetarian options. Continue reading “Had Ourselves a J”

Please follow and like:

High Speed & Intercity Rail Meeting at Union Station

Thursday evening, Tom Maziarz and Mark Alexander of the CT Department of Transportation presented information and study updates pertaining to high speed and intercity rail. The meeting, held at Union Station, was standing room only. Among those in attendance: Mayor Segarra, Chief Operating Officer David Panagore, a representative for Senator Dodd, the Massachusetts DOT, State Representative David McCluskey (West Hartford) and State Representative Bob Godfrey (Danbury).

The meeting was basically divided into four parts: discussion of the New Haven-to-Springfield section of the project, discussion of the regional (CT, MA, VT) section of project, presentation of the environmental review, and time for public comment.

The New Haven-Hartford-Springfield proposal was announced by Governor Rell and would cost $480 million in total, with $220 million of the funding coming from federal sources. The catch here is that the federal money is going to support high-speed intercity passenger rail; this means that to ensure the funding, all of those criteria must be met in some way. During the public portion of the discussion, Toni Gold asked about how the high speed could possibly work with so many street crossings and stations. In such a congested area, it seems like the trains would either present a danger or never truly reach a “high-speed.” Responding to someone else’s question about what actual speeds the trains would travel at, Maziarz said that they would hit 110mph at some point, but more realistically travel at around 80 mph. As in a previous meeting, emphasis was put on the fact that trains would slow down when going through cities.

Another requirement of the federal grant is that the “states develop proposals that were part of comprehensive, integrated regional rail visions.” Work done to the regional part of this would include restoring “Montrealer Route,” dealing with the need for train storage and yard space in Springfield, creating”intermodal connections”, and restoring inland route and service capacity between New York City and Boston. Currently, there is only one round trip train per day on the Inland Route — by 2030 this would increase to six roundtrips per day. In 2010 there are six roundtrips from Hartford per day, which would increase to 15 in 2030. There will also be an improvement in the time that trips take. Currently, a trip from White River Junction to Penn Station takes seven hours and thirty-six minutes. They hope to reduce this to five hours and thirty-two minutes in 2030. The trip from Hartford to Penn Station would be improved by thirty-seven minutes. Continue reading “High Speed & Intercity Rail Meeting at Union Station”

Please follow and like:

Mapping Our Issues

There is a reason for “putting it in writing.” A phone call does not provide the permanent type of record that a letter or an email does; moreover, it does not provide the same argument that something in writing provides. But sometimes, even this type of correspondence does not put enough pressure on the parties involved.

The best development to happen to Hartford’s 311 service has been the dynamic map that has been made available to the public. This map shows recent open and closed complaints.

It enables one to look at cases throughout the city, zoom in on areas of interest, and determine what problems exist where (and which ones are never dealt with). For instance, I made a graffiti complaint using SeeClickFix on July 7. The 311 service did not respond to that until July 16, though the GIS Services map marked the complaint on July 13. Though this is not what I would consider prompt response time, it is a great improvement over my interactions with the 311 service via email — some of which received no response. The graffiti, at least of three days ago, remains; however, the complaint itself has been publicly acknowledged on this map. When an issue has been resolved, the complaint is removed from the 311 map.

Some common complaints/queries: burned out streetlights, tax, “non-urgent housing condition” (blight?), waste not picked up, and condition of parks/city property.

Please follow and like:

Major Cleaning Planned for City Parks

The clean up planned for late August goes beyond picking up litter. As you can read below, broken items will be removed, courts will be repaired, and so forth. The City provides the following information:

The Week of the Parks schedule will include a centralized focus on the following areas:

Monday, August 23rd: Keney Park (Woodland Street entrance):

· Cut and remove fallen trees

· Clean and remove leaves along hiking roads and trails

· Remove old fence at tennis courts, clean area

· Repair broken benches

· Repair broken basketball rims

· Clean, patch and paint handball courts

· Remove old baseball backstop

Tuesday, August 24th: Colt Park

· Cut, remove and prune trees

· Repair park benches

· clean area under old stage/pavilion

· Clean and remove boards at old ice rink

· Repair Massek parking lot

· Repair basketball courts

Wednesday, August 25th: Goodwin Park

· Remove branches and wood along Maple Avenue

· Repair fit trail and equipment

· Repair basketball courts

· Trim and cut trees on Maple Avenue

Thursday, August 26th: Bushnell Park

· Remove perimeter shrubs near Pump House

· Repair park benches

· Prune Pump House shrubs

· Refurbish mulch beds where needed

· Trim and prune trees

· Remove old fencing around playground area

Friday, August 27th: Keney Park (Barbour Street entrance)

· Cut up and remove fallen trees

· Remove old fence and nets at northern tennis courts

· Replace or repair rims and nets at basketball courts

The Department of Health and Human Services, as part of the City’s “Health Hartford” campaign, will sponsor a number of activities in the parks on these same days. Health screenings and recreational events will occur and swimming pools will remain open this week (the week before school starts in Hartford) which is one extra week beyond what has already been scheduled.

The educational component will engage the newly created Green Ribbon Task Force. Mayor Segarra announced that neighborhood activist Bernadine Silvers and noted local architect Tyler Smith— both Founding Directors of Riverfront Recapture— are the Chairpersons. One of their many roles is to be part of panel discussions about the unique park system’s past, present and future including exciting activities at the Pump House in Bushnell Park.

What will kick off on August 20th as a celebration at the Riverfront with the Dragon Boat and Asian Festival will culminate on Saturday, August 28th with a Community Clean-Up Day. All of this is in conjunction with the long term vision of the “One City, One Plan” strategy for conservation and development (POCD 2020) that was adopted in June.

Please follow and like:

Segarra’s Got Drive

WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports that Mayor Segarra has already begun to cut unnecessary spending. One of the slashed items has been a driver for the Mayor. Segarra says:

“I already know that if i don’t have a driver, I’m going to be 10 minutes late to every single appointment. And that’s the consequence. But hopefully I’ll make it up at the end of the day, right?”

For more updates about Segarra’s first month as the mayor, read “Butt Ugly Building On Its Way. Could The Capitol West Building Be Next?” or listen online.

Please follow and like:

Surcharge for Online Tax Payment

A reader shares this:

From the City’s site:

The fee on credit card payments will be 2.5%. eChecks will incur a 2.50 transaction fee for each transaction

I also haven’t found a way to combine the tax bills into one payment like I can do in person. For me, that means paying four separate bills (car, motorcycle, scooter, utility trailer) at a 2.5% premium with a credit card or a $10.00 premium with an eCheck. If the four bills could be combined into one transaction, it would only cost me an extra $2.50 to avoid city hall altogether. As it is, I’m not very impressed.

Paying by card in person also comes with a surcharge: “The City of Hartford does accept Master Card ONLY at the Tax Office Window. For those taxpayers who choose to pay with Master Card there is a 2.50% convenience fee charged. This fee does not go to the City but to the bank for the transaction processing costs.”

Writing a check and dropping it off is always an option if a receipt is not required.

Please follow and like:

CCC Designated as a Leader College

Capital Community College, located on Main Street, has received the Leader College designation from the national nonprofit Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count organization. It has received this honor “for demonstrating sustained improvement and accomplishments on key student achievement indicators.”

The college has recently implemented several initiatives through Achieving the Dream, such as:

  • The Black & Latino Male Resource Center: Mentors helping minority men navigate the challenges of college,
  • Learning Communities: Interactive environment and tutoring support for students in a developmental sequence, to help them transition to credit courses, and
  • Math Intervention: Using embedded tutors and math tutoring software to help developmental math students in and out of the classroom.

Other colleges that have been dubbed as Leader Colleges include: Alamo Community College District, Brazosport College, Martin Community College, Northampton Community College, Northern Virginia Community College, and Yakima Valley Community College.

Please follow and like: