Category: design

Final Downtown North Design Meeting

By , December 12, 2013 5:13 pm

Artwork on structure walls at Heaven. It was proposed that these structures be removed or reduced in size. There were objections to the removal of this public art.

“This is about preparing an area for development,” said Thomas Deller, City of Hartford’s Director of Development Services. “Everything that’s here is being proposed as the maximum.”

The Downtown North Park Plan is funded, Deller said, by a sustainable community grant to “determine how we develop” the area “for growth and sustainability.”

As with the previous two public meetings, there were questions about who these proposed changes are for, even as the standing room only crowd was told that a steering committee included community members.

But all along, it has been evident that whole segments of the population have not been included in the planning process. At the previous meeting in October, very few residents not employed by the City were in attendance, and no regular users of New Ross, County Wexford Park were involved, even though this small park has its own Friends group. At that meeting, when I informed Tim Love, the Principal of Utile, Inc., that the park is currently used by skaters and others, and that a formal skate park was about the break ground, I was told that if this park was deemed not in the interest of economic development, the skate park could be moved.
I suggested that the parties involved in redevelopment reach out to the community.

That does not seem to have happened in the time since, but park users — including those who skate, do parkour, and use the space as a canvas for their art — caught wind of the plans to change a space without seeking their input. So, they showed up at last night’s final meeting, and they showed up in large numbers.

Regular users of Wexford, New Ross County Park — Heaven — showed up to the meeting where the park was given two minutes of discussion tacked on at the end just before the library closed.

Predictably, information about the skate park was presented last, for mere minutes, and then followed by the rushed Q&A segment. Continue reading 'Final Downtown North Design Meeting'»

“N” is for No: Community Speaks Against Closure of Clark School

By , November 7, 2013 1:34 pm

Photo by Christopher Brown

“You have used the most powerful word in the English language,” Steve Harris, member of the Hartford Democratic Town Committee said, “and that word is ‘no.’”

“No” is what the parents, families, teachers, staff, and community have been saying to the proposal that the public John C. Clark  School be phased out and replaced by Achievement First, a charter school.

Photo by Christopher Brown

After this proposal was sprung on the Clark School last month, parents have stood up to say they are not interested in having their children’s school closed.

Before the Board of Education workshop on Wednesday night, nineteen people lined up to speak against this proposal in the cafeteria of the former Milner School on Vine Street in the city’s North East neighborhood, blocks away from the school in jeopardy.

Imam Muhammad Ansari, the President of the Greater Hartford Chapter of the NAACP, said “this issue is a civil rights issue when the parents’ rights are being taken away.” Continue reading '“N” is for No: Community Speaks Against Closure of Clark School'»

Public Comment Futile on Downtown North Park Design?

By , October 23, 2013 7:50 am

A question routinely asked by Hartford residents is if attending the endless number of public meetings serves any purpose. People feel their voices are not heard. Sometimes nothing comes from these conversations. Some suspect that these feedback sessions are held just so various entities can check “public engagement” off their lists before moving on to the next stage.

Last week’s Downtown North Park meeting did little to improve confidence in such things. Continue reading 'Public Comment Futile on Downtown North Park Design?'»

PARK(ed)

By , September 20, 2013 4:24 pm

Green carpets were rolled out this morning for people, boggling the minds of those who had never heard of PARK(ing) Day before. Though anybody can participate in this worldwide event by simply taking over metered parking spaces, Hartford’s first ever PARK(ing) Day was organized.

We were told that the sod, brought in by KNOX, would be re-used in some way during EnvisionFest this weekend. Because of the limited hours we were unable to see everything, but here’s a glimpse at some ways Downtown’s streets and a parking lot transformed earlier on Friday:

Pratt Street

Robyn Valente on Pratt Street

Continue reading 'PARK(ed)'»

Aspirations for North Downtown, West Downtown, and a sliver of Clay Arsenal and North Meadows

By , July 17, 2013 11:32 am

Parcel on Windsor Street

“It’s very white,” one resident remarked of the theme in Utile‘s “aspirational photos” for the region being described as “Downtown North.”

This was one of the kinder observations made during Tuesday’s presentation and discussion: “Hartford North Park: A Downtown Area Plan.”

Tom Deller, Director of Development Services, said a few words to set the stage, then left for the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s meeting on Flower Street across town. City officials remaining for what Deller called a public hearing included Councilperson Larry Deutsch and Councilperson David MacDonald.

While Deller did say this was only a first discussion of possibilities and that one of the project’s goals is to reconnect the north side of Hartford to Downtown, there was a shared sense of confusion over what the intention was behind this redevelopment plan and meeting. Continue reading 'Aspirations for North Downtown, West Downtown, and a sliver of Clay Arsenal and North Meadows'»

Improving Parks, One Carriage Ride at a Time

By , July 12, 2013 12:38 am

“More events in Goodwin, Colt, and Keney Park”

“Skateboarding”

“Ice skating in more parks”

“Enough with the iQuilt already!”

“The old Taste of Hartford…when all the restaurants had booths on Constitution Plaza”

A full house of residents did not hesitate to say and write down what they thought Hartford’s parks could use. The Capital City Parks Master Plan‘s timeline involves several public forums, stakeholder meetings, and an online survey in the near future. Thursday night’s public meeting at the library was the first; two more meetings are planned for August and September. There will be intermittent stakeholder meetings.

With a steering committee, consultants, and engineers on hand, the first meeting was what Tom Deller, City of Hartford’s Director of Development Services, called an attempt to “understand what we have, what we need . . . and how to improve it.”

“It’s important that we hear your concerns,” he said. Continue reading 'Improving Parks, One Carriage Ride at a Time'»

Ironing Out Wrinkles in the Proposed Urban Skate Plaza

By , April 25, 2013 3:33 pm

Not enough charrettes are led by professionals in flannel and denim. Continue reading 'Ironing Out Wrinkles in the Proposed Urban Skate Plaza'»

Heaven’s Final Design

By , April 23, 2013 9:33 am

At the same time as residents are being urged to accept a potential change to Pope Park or Colt Park that nobody seems to want — a Cal Ripken Sr.Foundation Youth Development Park (with artificial turf) — the finishing touches are finally being happening on a different kind of park that has had enough buy-in to warrant the creation of the Hartford Skateboard Task Force.

When something sits unused long enough, people find other uses for it. In this case, the underutilized New Ross, County Wexford Park was unofficially reestablished — at least by those who regularly visited it — as Heaven, a space for skateboarding, parkour, and art. Continue reading 'Heaven’s Final Design'»

Trashionistas Take City Hall

By , April 21, 2013 11:06 pm

Continue reading 'Trashionistas Take City Hall'»

Albany-Homestead Corridor: Whatever sticks

By , April 3, 2013 10:30 pm

Having grown up in Hartford when there was an arcade on Main Street across from what is now the Capital Prep Magnet School, a man explained that areas north of downtown experienced divestment beginning in the late 1960′s. “They called it civil uprising,” he said of the trigger for this loss. “We called it riots.” Continue reading 'Albany-Homestead Corridor: Whatever sticks'»

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