There was a lot of buzz yesterday about the iQuilt project, which many had not heard of despite it being in existence since 2008.
One space this plan focuses on is Bushnell Park.
The photos below were taken on Tuesday, the same day as when Doug Suisman of Suisman Urban Design shared many ambitious ideas about how the iQuilt plan can impact the park. These photos are taken from the perspective of a pedestrian/cyclist commuter, though an effort was made to include some of the park’s attractions. These photographs show the range of conditions and maintenance in Bushnell Park as of January 2012.
Part of the East Coast Greenway runs between the Armory and the Legislative Office Building. This path continues over a highway on-ramp, along the railroad tracks and viaduct, and into Bushnell Park. Sand continuously covers part of this path because of poor maintenance. None of the neighboring entities (Bushnell Park, State of Connecticut, Amtrak, etc.) take consistent responsibility for dealing with the erosion issues.
The green area along the path is equally neglected. It's not uncommon to find empty bottles, snack wrappers, and even syringes along this edge.
The pavement is uneven and the area is poorly lit, making it dangerous for cyclists at night who are not familiar with the terrain. Yet, this route is preferable to riding past highway on/off ramps on Capitol Avenue, Broad Street, and Asylum Street because of the ability to sidestep harried motorists.
Because of the incline and lack of lighting here, this place can present some danger at night due to lack of visibility, yet it provides a more direct route for pedestrians and cyclists. The State Capitol police do routinely patrol the area.
Upon officially entering the park, the pavement again becomes uneven. During past winters, snow often gets heaped randomly into the middle of this path, with no consideration for those who use it daily. Many view this as a "quiet" and seldom-used area, but in reality, many do use this as a means of getting from Point A-to-Point B. It connects Downtown to several of the neighborhoods.
Continuing straight on this path would take a person to Union Station. For many just arriving to Hartford, this segment of the park is among the first things they see. For part of the year there are portapotties in this area. There are no reliable, indoor public bathrooms in the park. The Pump House Gallery has restrooms, but they are rarely open to the public.
Rats have been seen scurrying near this wide open and somewhat randomly placed dumpster.They have also been reported in other areas of the park.
The playground located conveniently next to the carousel is given rave reviews by many parents and the kids, but it's not what it could be. Last year there was a sharp, rusty piece of metal that was not dealt with for months after it was brought to the City's attention. The cushiony ground cover is pulled up in several places, creating a tripping hazard for children. Most unfortunate is the major feature that has been broken for nearly as long as it has been in place.
A small "river" of water is supposed to flow through the playground. This has not worked for years.
At least the frogs that spit water are cute even when they are broken.
Graffiti happens everywhere. Bushnell Park is no exception.
These barrels have been in/on the pond for about one week. The City was notified about this via SeeClickFix on Sunday. It is the norm for there to be large amounts of litter in the pond.
This end of the park gets a lot of use from people playing soccer and Frisbee. The ground always seems a bit soggy, even if it has not rained for awhile. This is true of the ground in several places in the park.
Because people asked for more food options, there are two kiosks (in addition to food trucks that park on surrounding streets) next to the ice rink. As someone who walks through nearly every day (including on weekends) and during various times of day, I have seen these open rarely. That's too bad because both The Kitchen and Vito's have delicious food.
The ice scraped from the rink has to go somewhere, but this seems haphazard, as does the torn up lawn. In various urban planning meetings, residents have expressed concern about the way that the Bushnell Park lawn is disrespected by those who drive into the park. City trucks do this, as do the State Capitol police (who are just leisurely patrolling...not actually pursuing anyone) and vendors/musicians. It seems shortsighted to drive and park on the lawn, but it is easily corrected by simply sticking to the paved areas except for when absolutely necessary to go off-road.
The ice rink continues to be hugely popular, bringing in something like 30,000-35,000 people so far this season. It gives teens, especially, something to do. It gives an increasingly obese population a fun way to be less sedentary. It gets people outdoors. But this year, like last, the structure seemed to be constructed so rapidly. Not built to last. There is talk of a permanent rink, which is less wasteful than creating and destroying something every season.
This is one of the first views people have of the park if they enter from the east.
Crossing the street can be a challenge, even with the walk signal. Vehicles speed along roads surrounding the park, particularly here, as cars head on and off the Whitehead Highway. In this case, they are coming around a curve and may not see someone crossing until it's too late.
This is a view of Pulaski Circle, which is one item that the iQuilters plan to address. Navigating this on bicycle, where cars are still closer to highway speeds than city street speeds, can be risky.
The Stone Field Sculpture is slated to be included in the Bushnell Park extension to be called Bushnell Gardens. A plan to flood the public art appears to be scrapped.