commentary/editorial

Meet Your City: Square Pegs

This week, we are going to take a look at some of the off-kilter things that help give Hartford character. If anything has been overlooked, let us know about it in the comment section (read comment policy before posting).

Little Free Libraries

A brand new library on Oxford Street

Hartford has a number of brick-and-mortar libraries, between Hartford Public Library’s main building and branches, and those inside of the universities and colleges. We also have a bunch of Little Free Library boxes, with a new one opening on Oxford Street within the last week. In areas where there are no library branches, these honor system libraries can fill a gap. We’ve seen three in person — Oxford Street, Charter Oak Cultural Center, and TrinfoCafe — and have heard rumor of at least four others within city limits. On Laurel Street, there is a Little Free Pantry. (more…)

Meet Your City: Drinks with a View

refreshment at The Tavern at Keney Park

The Tavern at Keney Park: If you’ve done any exploring of Keney Park, you’ll have noticed in recent years a structure next to the golf course that looked like one of those sheltered picnic areas you might find in a State Park. According to the Hartford Preservation Alliance, this rustic Tudor style structure was a “1934 as a Great Depression project of the Civil Works Administration (CWA) and Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA).” Relying heavily on recycled materials, the “[s]tone for the building came from the [then] recently-demolished US Post Office which stood immediately adjacent the Old State House downtown” and the building’s “[b]rick came from an old orphan asylum on Putnam Street.”

The Keney Park Golf Course Clubhouse has been transformed into The Tavern at Keney Park, a casual American restaurant with ample patio seating, in addition to the indoor space where a fireplace will be in use in colder months. This is operated by The DISH Restaurant Group, so you it’s tasty grub.

portabella burger at The Tavern at Keney Park

If you love golf, you probably already know about this spot which is still in its soft-opening phase as of publication. But, if you are like us and find golf to be “a good walk spoiled,” you can still enjoy The Tavern. What other public location in Hartford allows for dining where you can see flowering shrubs, lots of green, and thick forest without the interruption of highway noise? You’ll get sounds of birds chirping. This is the time of year when patios have the most appeal, but Keney Park is gorgeous year-round, especially in autumn. Get a hit of fall foliage without the long drive to Vermont! (more…)

Beyond Hartford: Providence

You probably don’t remember the Beyond Hartford series because the last one of these happened in 2013. Beyond Hartford provides some day trip options for people on a budget. We will be bringing back this series, sporadically. If you have suggestions for places to check out within 200 miles, send an email.

Elsewhere, I’ve written about how it may not be easy to get to Providence from Hartford, but once you’re there, it’s fairly accessible without a car. A trip automatically becomes more enjoyable when getting from place-to-place is not a pain in the ass. This fits the bill. It’s a place where you can do research and plan everything out, or just show up and wander, finding treasures without direction or intention. (more…)

March for Science Connecticut Demands Evidence-Based Policies

With rain coming down for the first hour of the event, protestors packed Mortensen Riverfront Plaza in Hartford on Earth Day to rally on behalf of science because we are now in a time when information about climate change is disappeared from the White House website. (more…)

IDEAS FOR 50 MILLION CARROT STICKS

This is a reader-submitted piece by Miguel Jose Matos, Hartford resident of twenty years. This fits in with our Suggestion Box series and addresses the recent pledge of $50 million over five years to the City of Hartford by Aetna, The Hartford, and Travelers.

by Miguel Jose Matos

by Miguel Jose Matos

 

Three of our local corporations have stepped up as committed partners to back Hartford to the tune of $50 million dollars over five years, if the City can get its financial house under control and come up with a workable plan for a viable future.

Funding the money hinges on the City putting forth a comprehensive and sustainable set of solutions for Hartford. The key piece of language in the corporate announcement was to be “part of” a plan, this was the clue. But based on media reports, the “when and how” have not been clearly spelled out, so it’s a great carrot but as yet no one is sure how long the stick is, and what will it take for our community to come together. A little over three million a year from each company is a great start.

“Push the corporate folk to drop their dime, while the City hammers out some fixes, use their dimes now to fund fixes; that without money remain unfixable”.

$10 million over 5 years is a good first step when having to climb out of a sinkhole fifty million dollars deep. But to get grounded we must back into the numbers, because the City is crippled with debt and limping with weak cash flow. It will be difficult to concoct a financial plan strong enough because of the City’s weak cash position, only making it harder to satisfy the conditional $50M Corporate Offer.

Corporate leaders are good community folks doing their part, protecting their investment and their workforce, but they understand risk and do not want to throw good money after bad. This narrative puts the City in a tricky position.

This point in time is a good opportunity to show the local corporations that the City has a plan that can be funded bit by bit with the corporate funds that are being offered. A project-by-project funding process based on a pay for performance system may mitigate some the upfront risk that has tied these moneys with a tough condition.

This tactic has relevance because it is not meant to only address the corporate funding offer, but to serve as the foundation for an annual Business Challenge Fund. Let’s get back to the corporations and be as corporate in approach as they are. Corner their attention by putting forth a recovery plan that is based on a return on their money and their participation. The approach is in many ways how corporations look at investing themselves. (more…)

Learning Curb: Dukes of Hazzard Edition

Photo credit: Rich H.

Photo credit: Rich H.

We love when readers send in pics, especially when they are of a thing we passed an hour previous while it was pouring rain and we did not want to wreck our camera to get the photo.

Rich sent in this photo of a ridiculously parked car with these comments: “For your use in the Parking Geniuses series or whatever. Pedestrians either have to enter Capitol Ave or do a cool Dukes of Hazzard hood-slide to get to the narrow snow cutout.

Not to mention that cars coming to a stop on the visible stop line probably can’t see well around the corner.”
That covers it.

Suggestion Box: Plan Outside the Conference Room Box

Ample space for a bike lane and other street improvements on Bartholomew Avenue

Ample space for a bike lane and other street improvements on Bartholomew Avenue. Pics in this article were all taken in the middle of a regular workday.

 

If you’ve been to one planning workshop, you’ve been to nearly them all. Typically, these are held in a meeting room with no windows. To an extent, we get why this happens. We live in a sedentary society that bristles at even temporary discomfort. That, and everyone always wants to use Powerpoint.

But is this the best way to solicit input from those who are using the streets, parks, and buildings under discussion for redesign? Barring weather extremes where participants might get heat stroke or frostbite, could we reconsider at least some of these venues? (more…)

TORUK’s Futuristic World Comes to Hartford

Cirque du Soleil performers practice a balancing act on the Thanator skeleton sculpture.

If you perused Trump’s proposed budget released yesterday, then you already know that among other things, all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts would be eliminated and the Environmental Protection Agency would have its funding cut 31%. Nineteen agencies in all would have their funding completely eliminated.

Eating that news for breakfast, it felt like the opening night of Cirque du Soleil’s TORUK — The First Flight, inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar, could not arrive soon enough as a temporary escape. (more…)

February 2017 Events in Hartford

February 1

  • Origami Presentation: Paper sculptor artist Benjamin Parker will give a demonstration at the giant bench inside of Hartford Public Library. This is located near the new books on the library’s main floor. Free. 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Get HYPEd, the monthly casual networking event for young professionals and entrepreneurs, will be at Black-Eyed Sally’s (350 Asylum St.), 5:30-8:30 p.m. Free event. Bring your business cards!
  • MakeHartford Open House with Show & Tell – check out the space, speak to makers, show what you’re doing – 6:30-9 p.m. at 30 Arbor Street, B7.

(more…)