Part One: Frog Hollow to Firefly Hollow
A friend had suggested a Sunday morning meet-up at the downtown New Britain CTFastrak terminal for a leisurely bike ride to Bristol’s Firefly Hollow Brewing Company. I rode my bike to the Sigourney Street Fastrak station in Asylum Hill to catch a free ride to Hard Hittin’ New Britain. A woman in a bright vest offered a decal and advice about the best entrance to use when loading a bike on the bus. (Tip: there’s a bike pictogram by the rearmost door—go in that way) Continue reading 'CTFastrak: A Seat-of-the-Pants Review'»
Following hor d’oeuvres and open bar, a few dozen people who haven’t experienced fashion show fatigue yet took their seats along the 100 foot runway installed on Pratt Street Saturday for the Hartford Has Style event.
NIRO and That Flavour Boutique, both of Pratt Street, presented clothing and shoes. Other designers and stores represented included House of Ettienne, Tanijah Gamble, I’m Possible Club, Yanique Mattice, Carmen Veal Swimwear, Zubair, and the Hartford Denim Company. Minimal information was provided about these designers.
Garments were modeled by a mix of models and “role models.” Logan Byrnes, Yvonne Davis, Jennifer DiBella, Oz Griebel, Jerry Long, Hector Rivera, Donna Sodipo, Tara Spain, Sharon Dichand, and Michael Williams were listed as the role models.
There were multiple singing performances and an “Instagram Intermission” during the event; it seemed more chairs opened up after each pause, with spectators leaving as the temperatures dropped and Pratt Street became a wind tunnel — a condition not compatible with strapless gowns.
“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.
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'»
“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.
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'»
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?'»
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:
“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'»
“More events in Goodwin, Colt, and Keney Park”
“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'»