Category: community

Alienated Public Demands a Voice in City Hall

from 21 July 2014 march

From the moment Mayor Segarra stood in front of City Hall to announce his plan to relocate the New Britain Rock Cats to Hartford on the public dime, there have been unanswered questions:

How exactly would this (fully or partially) publicly-funded private business provide true economic development for the city?  How many full time, living wage jobs would this create for residents of Hartford? Why were Hartford voters and residents excluded from the conversation until this was declared a “done deal” by the mayor? Why build in this location instead of at the existing Dillon Stadium near Colt Park? Why were key stakeholders in this area omitted from the secret dealings, finding out only after word of the deal reached the media? Why was a stadium not included in the Downtown North Plan and why is this able to displace the types of developments, like mixed-use residential, that had been discussed with residents for months? What kind of environmental studies have been done and how would the expected increase in traffic of this area impact Hartford’s already high asthma rates? Why did the mayor in his press release announcing that he wanted the stadium relocation agreement item withdrawn from the City Council agenda, fail to indicate that he would be making no effort to withdraw the related resolution for City purchase of 271 and 273 Windsor Street, a 2.08 acre vacant parcel considered necessary for the stadium development, a parcel that would cost the City of Hartford $1.7M? 

Mary Sanders of Hartford

The meetings of people in opposition to the so-called “done deal” began back in June, with various groups gathering across Hartford. These smaller discussions merged after the first round of meetings happening over one weekend. Residents went from private living rooms to a centrally-located cultural space. Meetings went on during World Cup games, during the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, during a time of year when many are away on vacation. Those who are baseball fans have said they do not appreciate games being played when it comes to politics and tax dollars. Continue reading 'Alienated Public Demands a Voice in City Hall'»

Discussion of New Location for Frog Hollow Library Branch

comments Comments Off
By , July 22, 2014 9:28 am

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'»

Opposition to Publicly-Funded Stadium Marches Down Main Street

comments Comments Off
By , July 21, 2014 10:46 pm

Justin Eichenlaub and Kate Bergren of Hartford

Over fifty residents walked from 1212 Main Street to City Hall on Monday during rush hour to tell representatives that they oppose the use of public money for building the proposed Rock Cats stadium.

Wildaliz Bermudez of Hartford

Various media outlets have misreported Continue reading 'Opposition to Publicly-Funded Stadium Marches Down Main Street'»

Craving Civic Meetings?

comments Comments Off
By , July 15, 2014 1:07 pm

If it’s listed here, it’s open to the public. You do not have to speak or know anything about what is going on to attend.

July 15: Frog Hollow NRZ Meeting at 5pm in The Lyceum on Lawrence Street. Agenda includes discussion of Broad Street streetscape improvements, the future of the Hartford Public Library’s Park Branch, proposal to relocate the Monument to the Puerto Rican Family, and an allegedly illegal driveway.

July 16: The Historic Commissions will meet at 4pm at 260 Constitution Plaza (plaza level conference room).

July 17: Learn about where the Hartford Public Library’s Park Branch (Park and Babcock) may be relocated and provide input to officials. The meeting will be held at the Park Branch of the library at 5pm.

July 17: The Hartford 2000 board meeting will include an update from Rex Fowler on the proposed downtown supermarket. This will occur during the 5:30-8pm meeting at CREC, 111 Charter Oak Avenue.

July 21: A public hearing will be held directly before the City Council meeting. The public hearing begins at 6pm. Arrive early to sign up to speak. This is held in Council Chambers in the municipal building/City Hall. (One of the stadium resolutions — #10 from the 6/19/14 agenda — has been withdrawn, but the other remains)

July 22: Planning and Zoning Commission meets at 5pm in the plaza level conference room at 260 Constitution Plaza.

City Officials Blow Opportunity to Inform Public, Answer Questions

Councilperson Deutsch holds a level

Councilperson Larry Deutsch held a Stanley level to demonstrate the need to keep politicians “on the level.” Then, he showed a brass union to call attention to how union jobs are a good fit for the city.

The frequently outspoken elected official said he had been promised five minutes to speak before the crowd of nearly 300, but was later told he would have to sign up and take a one- or three-minute spot like everyone who was not Mayor Segarra or Thom Deller.

Deutsch arrived prepared with hardware props and a list of seven questions:

  • what, exactly, will be the full-time union or living-wage jobs for Hartford residents?
  • will the mayor’s administration and team owners commit to a signed community benefits agreement regarding a fund for school and park improvements, blight remediation, community centers, and more?
  • can there be a binding and secure guarantee for residents and taxpayers for full repayment of all City expenses — from consultants to construction to publicity — if the owners decide to relocate the Rock Cats before the lease is up?
  • how will there be compensation for workers and small businesses that depend on the stadium games if the team leaves before the contract is up?
  • who exactly will pay for police overtime and Department of Public Works sanitation?
  • why haven’t Hartford taxpayers and City Council been asked what they want for downtown and he rest of the city before spending money to plan and put out proposals for a stadium?
  • how will workers losing jobs in New Britain be treated?

Neither Segarra nor Deller had answers to his questions.

Few answers were provided for anyone’s questions. Continue reading 'City Officials Blow Opportunity to Inform Public, Answer Questions'»

Saturday in Bushnell Park

comments Comments Off
By , June 28, 2014 1:47 pm

The Festival of India & Ratha Yatra (chariots) — sponsored by ISKCON of Connecticut — could be found in the western section of Bushnell Park. There were greetings of peace and love as families gathered under the trees for shade.

A display about changing bodies and reincarnation

Display on the ethics of eating meat

Continue reading 'Saturday in Bushnell Park'»

Forum Discusses Models for Non-Violence

comments Comments Off
By , June 26, 2014 3:41 pm

Nelba Márquez-Greene speaking at forum hosted by Trinity College on Thursday

“Tell the truth, shame the devil.”

Nelba Márquez-Greene explained that a woman from Glory Chapel — a church she used to attend — would say this during services.

Márquez-Greene said she was going to be doing much of that during her presentation A Professional and Personal Perspective on Trauma and Recovery at the Building a More Peaceful Connecticut: Tools, Models and Initiatives that Promote Non-Violence forum hosted by Trinity College on Thursday.

Márquez-Greene, founder of the Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers, is a clinical fellow of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. She alternated between speaking as a professional, and speaking from personal experience. Her daughter, Ana Grace, was one of the Sandy Hook shooting victims in 2012.

The Ana Grace Project’s purpose is to promote love, community, and connection for every child and family, Márquez-Greene said. Part of that is addressing trauma, which does not only appear following natural disasters or shootings, she said, but also when one experiences poverty, racism, and insecure housing. Continue reading 'Forum Discusses Models for Non-Violence'»

July 2014 Events

Do you need programmed events? Put on some sneakers and walk around. This photo was taken on a path along the Park River, accessible from where Lorraine Street turns. Park River trails are also accessible from Mark Twain Drive (near Plainfield Street) and Brookfield Street (near Flatbush Avenue).

Here’s some of what is happening in Hartford:

July  1

  • Love Wins on Oakland Terrace: free family festival from 5-7pm at Glory Chapel, 221 Greenfield Street.
  • Drop into Real Art Ways for Real Board (Games). Play the games they provide or bring your own. 6-10pm. Free.
  • Fed Up, a documentary about the food industry, screens at Cinestudio at 7:30pm. General admission is $9.

July 2

  • The Kid, a Charlie Chaplin film, will be screened in the Hartford Public Library at 1:30 and 5:30pm today. Free.
  • Love Wins on Barbour Street: free family festival from 5-7pm featuring haircuts, pony rides, face painting, music, and more. This will be hosted by The Hartford Project and the Citadel of Love, 167 Barbour.
  • Every Wednesday — as long as it isn’t raining — there will be free yoga in Elizabeth Park at 5:30pm. Bring your own mat or towel. Yoga is in the picnic area across from the Pond House.
  • Hartford 2000 is hosting what it calls an “informational meeting” about the proposed Rock Cats stadium. This will be held at the Hartford Public Library at 6pm. Mayor Segarra and other City officials are expected to be presented to answer questions and listen to public opinion. As of publication, only Segarra has been named as a speaker. Continue reading 'July 2014 Events'»

Parkville’s Park Re-Opened

comments Comments Off
By , June 22, 2014 10:36 pm

 

Kids jamming with the Hartford Hot Several

George Day Park, Parkville’s only park, had its grand re-opening on Saturday. The event featured music from Cuban conga player, Pedrito Martinez, along with the Hartford Hot Several. The water features were on. Food and refreshment trucks lined the streets that had been closed to traffic for the afternoon. Continue reading 'Parkville’s Park Re-Opened'»

City Hall Dominated by Voices Against Stadium

If members of City Council have been checking their email and reading social media since the rumors of the stadium began last week, the major opposition to the project vocalized during Monday’s public hearing should have come as no surprise to elected officials.

Seventeen people spoke strongly against the stadium. There were three — two of whom are politicians — on the fence, and one business owner who seemed generally cautious. There were a total of five in favor, two of whom are politicians. Of those supporters, only three were what could be called strong supporters.

Although Segarra talked a good game at last week’s rushed press conference, we have learned that most members of the City Council only found out about this “done deal” at the same time or after the general public did last Monday.

Councilwoman Jennings said something needed to happen for Hartford’s economy to improve, but she had many questions that she wanted answers for. Monday, she asked to have her name removed from the list of those sponsoring the land transfer item.

In another interesting turn, Shawn Wooden, who spoke in favor of the stadium in the capacity as Council President at that press conference on Wednesday has revealed that his firm (Day Pitney) represents the seller of that land: Rensselaer. Monday night, he recused himself from voting on the land transfer item. Continue reading 'City Hall Dominated by Voices Against Stadium'»


Payment Options


Sign up for our monthly newsletter!

Panorama theme by Themocracy