Category: access

Discussion of New Location for Frog Hollow Library Branch

Imagine that you are looking to buy or build a home. You tell the realtor all of your dreams. You want a circular driveway, a heated pool, a turret, a moat, radiant heating, solar panels, and stone chimneys. Some visitors might have trouble with stairs, so you will want an elevator and at least one entrance with a ramp. This will have to be a secure building or else nobody will want to visit. Parking for visitors is a must. Inside, you will want the latest technology, modern furniture, and lots of light. Your realtor jots this all down, but then asks what you can afford to pay. Furious, you demand to know why she does not believe you deserve a place to live.

That was more or less the gist of the meeting last week about the future of the Hartford Public Library’s Park Branch, except switch those roles. Library patrons were told to dream, but when residents asked about the budget and cost comparison of two recently discussed site possibilities, the CEO misinterpreted these softball questions as attempts to stall the project.

The meeting raised more questions than it answered, starting with what Hartford residents should expect from the head of the public library.

The questions began before Matt Poland, CEO of the Hartford Public Library, finished proverbially clearing his throat with historical information about the library system that residents lost patience with immediately; the public meeting was already starting thirty minutes late and it was held in the crowded Park Branch itself.

As expected, residents were told that the Lyric Theater at 585 Park would be the site — an announcement that is anticlimactic when discussion of moving the library into this venue has been ongoing for so many years. In 2007, reusing the historical structure at the corner of Broad and Park might have been revolutionary. In March 2010, the space most suited for reuse as a library was removed after the City-owned building suffered demolition through neglect. Instead of spending $150,000 to fix a roof, the City of Hartford opted to spend approximately $92,000 on the winning bid for partial demolition needed when the building began spitting bricks and showing signs of imminent internal collapse.

What remains of the building has been gutted and will likely require demolition with only the façade sustainable. In 2012, City Council marked $300,000 for façade improvements to the Lyric. That same year, $800,000 was allocated for renovations to the building. The Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA) has said that it is willing to commit $300,000 to the façade. Two of the building’s strongest advocates — Luis Cotto and Matt Ritter — are no longer on the City Council; Cotto has moved out of state and Ritter is serving as a State Representative.

The south-facing side of the former Lyric Theater

Mayor Segarra has gone on record as favoring an Hispanic cultural center on this site. Talk of restoring the Lyric Theater began well before the current administration. In 2007, the Courant reported that a consultant was needed to raise the $10M for restoration of the structure. In 2008, there were discussions with the Frog Hollow NRZ about the possibility of El Centro Cultural at 856 Broad (Lyric site), with Broad-Park Development Corporation applying to be a tentative developer of this parcel.

In 2012, the Courant reported that the Park Branch wanted to expand to 10,000 square feet. On Thursday, Poland told residents that this new location would offer 8,000 square feet, which he said is approximately four times the current size of the Park Branch. Continue reading 'Discussion of New Location for Frog Hollow Library Branch'»

Partial Temporary Closure of Hamilton Street Begins Monday

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By , July 9, 2014 1:02 pm

Starting at 7 a.m. on July 14, the section of Hamilton Street between Francis and Bartholomew will be closed to motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic. The closure is expected to last for five days.

Why? CTfastrak.

Open Government: As American as Apple Pie(chart)

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By , July 7, 2014 9:19 am

One of the most (possibly unintentionally) offensive things that I have been asked on occasion about information published here: “Is that true?”.

As if I have nothing better to do than knowingly publish rumors and false information, waiting for the libel lawsuits to roll in.

For those who wonder how Real Hartford, not being a traditional media source, finds out some information, there are two upcoming free workshops that could demystify this. Continue reading 'Open Government: As American as Apple Pie(chart)'»

City Document Claims Stadium No Impact on Supermarket

Despite the Hartford Community Loan Fund’s announcement that it was not going to continue pursuing the opening of a grocery store in Downtown North because developers and other partners felt the proposed stadium changed the nature of the environment this market would be in, a document issued to City employees this week claims otherwise.

Though other developers stepping in is a possibility, the HCLF has said that the City came to them years ago with the specific Downtown North area in mind. Research was conducted to find community-oriented partners who have experience and competence in working with urban markets.

The HCLF met with the City before the release of this document and let officials know that they could not move forward in that location so long as the stadium would be there.

BallPark June18 REV


This document also includes a hand-picked selection of news articles and opinion pieces that promote the stadium; articles containing serious questions about funding have not been included.

There have been concerns voiced by some in the community that “misinformation” about the stadium has been floating around. Real Hartford could not get questions answered at the press conference, nor were questions answered by later attempts to reach Segarra or Deller.

 

I-84 Hartford Project Asks for Public Involvement

Underside of an elevated I-84 ramp near Broad and Capitol. Photo taken 17 June 2014.

The I-84 Hartford Project held a public information meeting on Tuesday to inform about State Project No. 63-644 and to get people involved in what the CT DOT calls the early planning process.

“We’re here really kicking off public involvement,” Richard Armstrong of the CT DOT said. On Tuesday, they were not “rolling out” any “design solutions.”

Building the Case for Rethinking the Elevated Highway

The section of I-84 being analyzed is between Flatbush Avenue and the I-91 interchange, including the Sisson Avenue, Sigourney Street, and Asylum Street/Capitol Avenue/Broad Street ramps. Of that 2.5 mile corridor, the raised highway (“Aetna Viaduct”) is considered to be most important. In actuality, there are 4.5 miles of bridges when the highway ramps are included. Armstrong said “it’s safe to drive on,” but “periodic repairs are expensive.”

Mike Morehouse, a senior project manager with Fitzgerald & Halliday, said that $60 million has been spent on repairing bridges in the last decade. Another $50 million in repairs are expected in the next three years. Continue reading 'I-84 Hartford Project Asks for Public Involvement'»

Navigating the Bushnell Park Area

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By , June 17, 2014 8:44 pm

Fences have been installed inside of the park to discourage people from stepping on freshly re-seeded sections of the lawn. This has meant some detours for pedestrians and awkward queuing up for food truck patrons.

Now, Trinity Street has been closed in one direction from Ford Street to just after the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch. This is expected to re-open in mid-August after the renovation of the arch is completed. According to a press release from the Bushnell Park Foundation, the renovation project will include “cleaning, repointing and repairing the masonry, restoring the wooden doors at the entrances, adding thermal and moisture protection to the Arch, and cleaning, re-lamping and re-aiming of all light fixtures.”

To add more spice to your commuting life, the area being called “Bushnell Park North” is scheduled to be closed to vehicles beginning on June 30. Motorists have been advised to use Trumbull and Pearl as part of the detour when the westbound lanes of Jewell Street are closed.

Center for Latino Progress Celebrates 35 Years

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By , June 3, 2014 1:32 pm

Jane Swift speaking in the Washington Room of Mather Hall at Trinity College

“I came from humble beginnings,” Jane Swift said, describing her time as a work study student at Trinity College, who scrubbed meal trays in the lower level of Mather Hall.

The former Governor of Massachusetts and current Chief Executive Officer of Middlebury Interactive Languages said she had two advantages: a mother who valued education and having English as her native language.

Swift was the keynote speaker at the Center for Latino Progress 35th Anniversary Breakfast this morning at Trinity College. Continue reading 'Center for Latino Progress Celebrates 35 Years'»

Public Community Art at Pearl and Trumbull

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By , June 2, 2014 2:24 pm

Local artist Tao LaBossiere created the mural outline outside of City Place today.

Passersby colored in the lines or created their own works on the sidewalk.

Proposed Crosswalks, Sharrows, and Bike Lanes That May Happen During Your Lifetime

The area of State House Square that had been proposed to change into a lane for buses.

With so little useful information traveling between City Hall and the general public, it is easy to get the impression that projects have stalled when that’s hardly the case. Continue reading 'Proposed Crosswalks, Sharrows, and Bike Lanes That May Happen During Your Lifetime'»

DOT Mitigation for Closure of Flower Street: Ain’t Nothing New Under the Sun

This is what the east-west mitigation path (Flower Street to Broad Street) looked like at 10:30 last night. At the meeting, two representatives from the Hartford Courant said that building a bridge would be “extravagant” and that they think the DOT did a “good job” with this pathway.

Fighting with the Connecticut Department of Transportation to lock down safe and reasonable pedestrian and cyclist access is a long process, so it’s unsurprising that those attending the latest round were small in number– a mix of those who understand the project better than some of those presenting on it, and those who were uninformed about how we came to be in a room discussing a multimillion dollar project that nobody wants.

Background for those just tuning in: The DOT barricaded one of Hartford’s city streets last year. Pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, even emergency vehicles, are unable to go from Capitol Avenue to Farmington Avenue on this street.

Neighborhood groups opposed this for obvious reasons, like losing north-south access between Frog Hollow and Asylum Hill. Area small businesses opposed this out of fear of losing significant foot traffic; later, those stores along Capitol Avenue would experience the loss in revenue predicted. The City of Hartford initially opposed this, but then backed off. Aetna had been ready to provide legal support to fight this, but they eventually cowered. Christopher Brown, a resident of Frog Hollow and board member of Bike Walk CT, sought a writ of mandamus — for us plain folk, that means he sued the DOT, not to get any money, but to force them to keep Flower Street open for cyclists and pedestrians. In Superior Court, as in these public neighborhood meetings, the argument for keeping the street open got twisted; instead of the case being about safety, it was interpreted as being about convenience — something that has never been the emphasis for vocal residents and business owners. What came out of that time in court was that the DOT is now on record as being committed to building a bridge that would actually move pedestrians and cyclists in the north-south direction.

Still no word on how this would be funded

At Monday’s meeting intended to update the community on the DOT’s plans for this Flower Street up-and-over, the attention once again was placed on convenience over safety. Though the method for obtaining these numbers was never disclosed, we were told that taking the Broad Multi-Use Path would take 6.3 minutes, the Skywalk, 5.5 minutes, and the elevator, 5.6 minutes. During this process, the community has asked the DOT for data on pedestrian and cyclist fatalities and injuries at at-grade crossings versus at busy intersections and at Interstate ramp crossings. To date, the public has not received this information.

At the meeting, Brown raised the point that according to the DOT’s own internal emails obtained through a FOIA request, there is a simple solution that would not require millions of dollars or minutes of detour: go from a double lane of busway to single for a small portion of the New Britain-to-Hartford path. According to the DOT Continue reading 'DOT Mitigation for Closure of Flower Street: Ain’t Nothing New Under the Sun'»


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