Category: politics/government

Silence on Saving the Salvation Shelter

By , August 28, 2014 7:28 am

Keeping homeless shelters open is not a new struggle in Hartford, but this time, the some $100,000 that was expected for the Salvation Army Marshall House vanished between the recommended budget and the adopted budget. A mere five-minute walk from what will be the CTfastrak Sigourney Street Station, the Marshall House has provided shelter for single women and families since 1974.

The adopted budget for the “Senior and Community Services Program” is $2.13M, down from the $2.2M in the recommended budget. This is where budgeting for the Marshall House, which serves as a no-freeze shelter for families, can be found in the City document. The 2013-2014 budget was $2.36M and reasons for the decrease in funding have been vague; the spending difference is explained only for the Health and Human Services budget as a whole. Continue reading 'Silence on Saving the Salvation Shelter'»

September 2014 Events

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By , August 26, 2014 9:46 am

September 1

  • Shop the Park Street Farmers’ Market (161 Washington) from 9am-1pm.
  • The First Presbyterian Church (136 Capitol) will be holding its farmers’ market from 10am-1pm today.
  • Chabad Chevra is holding a Labor Day Kosher BBQ to welcome new and returning students. Free food, t-shirts, and Israeli music. They say, “stop by to get a mezuzah for your dorm room.” This event will take place at Alumni Plaza (residential side of University of Hartford campus next to University Commons. 5-6:30pm.
  • Free jazz at Black-eyed Sally’s, 350 Asylum Street. 8-11pm. There’s no cover, but don’t be stingy — if you want to hear local music, you need to keep the venues running.

September 2

  • The farmers’ market at the Old State House (800 Main) runs from 10am-1pm.
  • The West End Farmers’ Market is open on Tuesdays from 4-7pm on the Clemens Green on Farmington Avenue.
  • There is no public hearing at the Board of Education workshop meetings, but if you like to stay informed on the state of public education, it may be worth your time. This meeting will be held in the Achievement First Hartford Academy, 305 Greenfield Street, from 5-7pm.
  • For those who like to compete, tonight is Real Bored (Games) at Real Art Ways. They provide the games, but you can also bring your own. 6-10pm. Free. 56 Arbor Street. Continue reading 'September 2014 Events'»

Scrappy Small Business Spotlights Sustainable, Local Economy

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By , August 25, 2014 9:54 am

Alexander Williams interned at Built It Green! NYC while at Fordham, working on both the abstract, office end of its compost program, along with the physical collection and maintenance of food scraps. From there, he spent a few months as the compost coordinator for GrowNYC. Both non-profits taught Williams about the logistics of turning waste into a usefulness substance.

Experience alone does not pay the bills, so Williams headed out of the big city and back to his hometown of West Hartford. With his degree in Environmental Studies, Economics, and Urban Planning, he was looking for work aligned with this background. He found Blue Earth Compost. Susannah Castle, its founder, wanted to move on. Right place, right time, right background. Williams stepped in as the new owner this past spring.

Blue Earth Compost is small, with three residential clients in Hartford and 35 in West Hartford. There are a few businesses that participate, including the Kitchen at Billings Forge and reSET. Continue reading 'Scrappy Small Business Spotlights Sustainable, Local Economy'»

Students Create Apps for City of Hartford and Cultural Institutions

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By , August 18, 2014 2:25 pm

Audience watches as Alicia Chiang, Owusu Darko, Raykwon Kerr, and Sean McCarthy unveil the app they created for TheaterWorks

The Mobile Apps for Hartford Program, Professor Ralph Morelli said, was about “getting students to see their power when they learn to code.”

Those twenty students from across Connecticut also earned stipends this summer.

Five teams created six apps (a fancy term for program) during a six-week session at Trinity College. At the end of the program, students learned that they would be able to keep the tablets that were on loan to them during July and August.

One team created a mobile version of the TheaterWorks website, consulting with the client to figure out which information needed to be included. This app provides details on the current schedule, information on how to reserve seats, driving directions, and even recommended restaurants within six blocks of the Pearl Street venue. Freddie McInerney, the Communications Director for TheaterWorks, said she was “awesomely impressed” by the students and the process.

A team working with the Old State House developed a Hartford Area Tour app designed to help visitors learn about and find forty sites they have designated as “iconic.” The students explained that they learned a little about copyright law in the process, finding that they actually are not able to just take photographs that they find on Google. This forced them to go out to each site and take photographs so that they would have images to use. Continue reading 'Students Create Apps for City of Hartford and Cultural Institutions'»

Land Purchases Approved for Downtown North Area

By , August 12, 2014 1:57 pm

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'»

City Council to Consider Multiple Property Acquisitons in Downtown North

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By , August 10, 2014 11:37 am

Last year when the Downtown North Plan was in development, after viewing renderings of retail and housing, some of the public questioned who would suddenly be investing in a part of the city that had been allowed to fall into disrepair for decades. In the last week, those same questions have been asked as the City of Hartford was initially reluctant to release any information about the four proposals it received, three of which were said to meet the RFP criteria. CV Properties LLC — addresses in Southport, CT and Boston — proposed a stadium, garage, and municipal building. Leyland Alliance — addresses in Middletown, CT and  Tuxedo Park, NY — proposed a stadium, municipal office space, residential units, retail including a grocery store, restaurants, and a brewery. Thomas Hooker Brewing Company of Bloomfield, CT proposed a new location for its brewery. It’s expected that a recommendation will be made to City Council in September.

But on Monday, there are three reports on Downtown North being given to City Council from its Planning and Economic Development Committee. Continue reading 'City Council to Consider Multiple Property Acquisitons in Downtown North'»

August 2014 Events

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By , July 28, 2014 8:23 am

Instructions: Skim list. Jot down items of interest on own personal calendar. Enjoy.

August 1

  • Dave Costa will perform at noon on the terrace of the Downtown Hartford Public Library. Free.
  • The Wadsworth Atheneum continues its Movies & Music Under the Stars series with Bombshell, starring Jean Harlow. Music by Criollo Clasico begins at 5:30pm in Gengras Court. Dinner available for purchase. The film begins at 8:15 (dark). Members receive free admission and one free drink. Regular admission prices apply for non-members.
  • BECK & CALL: The Servants Tour of the Mark Twain House, directed by Steven Raider-Ginsburg, starts at 7 tonight. Tickets are $22 for adults, $15 for youth. Reservations are required.
  • HartBeat Ensemble’s Youth Play Institute presents Change In Your Pocket, a play about food justice. The Youth Play Institute is a project that helps young people to brainstorm topics, develop a play, create the set, act it out, and more. Each play is on a different topic, with past ones exploring issues like violence and harsh punishments in schools. You can catch this three times– today at 7:30pm, on August 2nd at 7:30pm, and August 3rd at 2pm. Tickets are $5. Performances will be in the Carriage House Theater at 360 Farmington Avenue. Park for free in the Mark Twain Museum visitor lot (right across the street from the theater) or on street in legal spots.
  • There will be a free screening of Karate Kid in Goodwin Park at sundown. Bring a blanket or chairs and snacks.

    Goodwin Park

August 2

  • Stop into MakeHartford, MakerSpace to make a blinking light bracelet out of LEDs and duct tape. This is an all-ages workshop. $12. This space is located at 30 Arbor Street. 10-11am. Bring your own safety glasses.
  • The Taste of the Caribbean and Jerk Festival returns to the Riverfront from 1-10pm. Live music, children’s activities, food, and more. Raindate: August 3.
  • The backlash against the monster SUVs, McMansions, and other forms of conspicuous consumption is firmly here. Tiny: A Story About Living Small screens at Real Art Ways at 2pm. This documentary examines the movement to live in houses smaller than the average parking space. $10 general, $5 members. They say they are only showing this film once, so today is the day.
  • Watch the film Powered by Dreams, a documentary about the founder of the Dream Support Network and his steps to recovery after a near-death experience with kidney disease. This is hosted by The 224 (224 Farmington Avenue) at 3pm. Suggested donation $5.
  • Reception for artist Victor Pacheco at Real Art Ways, 6-8pm.
  • The Dirt Salon (50 Bartholomew) presents Deep Blue Rendezvous, a summer party and art show. Expect rooms decorated to match the theme, along with underwater trash art, video projects, and DJs. It’s suggested that attendees dress for the theme: pirates, mermaids, jellyfish, etc. This is an 18+ event. Advance tickets are $10; at door, $15. 9pm-1am. Continue reading 'August 2014 Events'»

Alienated Public Demands a Voice in City Hall

By , July 23, 2014 8:06 am

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

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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

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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'»

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