Family Day in Keney Park was among the many things happening this past weekend in Hartford. The free event provided dancing and musical entertainment, along with information from community organizations and free health screenings. There were food, book, and clothing vendors on the lawn near the Woodland Street entrance. Continue reading 'Weekend of Cultural Events'»
Exactly one person spoke favorably about the stadium deal during Monday’s public hearing, yet members of City Council went ahead and approved the three Downtown North land purchases anyway, two of which are directly connected — either in print or geographically — to the proposed stadium.
Raquel, the one voice overtly supporting the stadium, said that “Hartford is a dead city” and that if people are out of work, it is nobody’s fault but their own. It’s not the City’s responsibility to get people to work, she said. That was the message in between her continued support for the stadium. No statistics, no research. The City is here to provide entertainment, she implied, but not jobs.
Ten individuals — eight residents, one former resident, and one individual moving into Hartford soon — spoke against the stadium plan. One woman did not speak directly about the stadium, but said that the “city looks like crap” and that it is a “dead land.” Continue reading 'Land Purchases Approved for Downtown North Area'»
The Taste of the Caribbean and Jerk Festival returns to the Riverfront on August 2nd, 1-10pm. Musical entertainment and more. No admission fee.
Wadsworth Atheneum (600 Main)
Caribbean Block Party on August 7th, 5-9pm. Music, dance, dominoes, and more. Admission $5; free for members. Wearing yellow will gain you free admission.
Main & Capen to Bushnell Park
The West Indian Independence Parade starts at Main and Capen around 11am on August 9th. It proceeds along Main Street to Trumbull, and then into Bushnell Park where musical entertainment will be provided until 8pm.
Institute for Community Research (2 Hartford Square West, 146 Wyllys St)
Opening reception for Mas: Costumes from Hartford’s West Indian Community on August 21st from 5-7pm. Event features costumes like those worn in Trinidad Carnivals. This is also the graduation of twenty teens from the costume-making program; these costumes will be displayed at the Taste of the Caribbean & Jerk Festival and at the West Indian Independence Parade. Free.
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?
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'»
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.
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'»
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.
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.
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'»