Category: city council

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 Why did the mayor in his press release announcing that he wanted the stadium relocation agreement item withdrawn from the City Council agenda, fail to indicate that he would be making no effort to withdraw the related resolution for City purchase of 271 and 273 Windsor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'»

Opposition to Publicly-Funded Stadium Marches Down Main Street

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'»

Only One of Two Stadium Resolutions Withdrawn: March Still On

If City Hall was worried about misinformation about the stadium before, nothing in recent days has added clarity, including Mayor Segarra’s announcement that the stadium proposal was kinda-sorta withdrawn.

On Monday, as planned, one of two resolutions related to the stadium was withdrawn, as explained by Hartford 2000:

In short, there is still a stadium resolution up for discussion at the July 21st public hearing: whether or not the City should move forward with purchasing the 271 and 273 Windsor Street parcel that has been described as necessary for this larger plan.

It can be seen on the July 21 agenda here:

The original language of both items — withdrawn and current — can be seen here (#8 and #10):

A letter from Mayor Segarra to City Council published by CT News Junkie last week is explicit in which of the two resolutions were to be withdrawn. This announcement was made on Friday. Continue reading 'Only One of Two Stadium Resolutions Withdrawn: March Still On'»

Craving Civic Meetings?

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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'»

Stadium Lease Agreement

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By , June 11, 2014 2:29 pm

Here’s what’s been drafted as a lease agreement between City of Hartford and Connecticut Double Play, LLC.

City of Hartford / Connecticut Double Play Lease Agreement

There’s a bit to read.

At the press conference one week ago, Segarra said he did not anticipate additional parking. This document states that there would be “ballpark dedicated parking.”

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'»

A Strikeout for Transparency in City Hall

Downtown North

At each of the three public meetings for the Downtown North plan in 2013, a stadium was not mentioned. In fact, it seemed like news to Utile that the XL Center would be looking for options to move for expansion. When proponents of the XL Center raised this concern, the response seemed to suggest that there would not really be room for this type of facility at any of the vacant parcels in the area being dubbed “Downtown North.”

What was discussed: a grocery store, smaller retail and restaurants, and academic uses which would connect Capital Community College and the University of Saint Joseph School of Pharmacy to Capital Prep Magnet School and Rensselaer.

The plan, ambitious and somewhat flawed, did pay attention to keeping developments at what is called a human scale. This creates an environment more conducive to walking and cycling. There had been talk of housing, which raised concerns about gentrification, but in any case, these units would not be in a high rise.

The Hartford Community Loan Fund had been working with a tenant and the City of Hartford on bringing a grocery store to this area. With UConn entering the picture, it had the possibility of being placed on hold, but this week, the City and UConn made it official that the college would be moving into the former Hartford Times building. In theory, this would mean that the grocery store would get the green light for the area near Main and Trumbull.

Curveball

Today, Mayor Segarra announced that the New Britain Rock Cats would be moving to a stadium at 1214 Main Street (between Trumbull and Pleasant) in April 2016. All of those Downtown North meetings came after the time frame given for when Mayor Segarra originally entered secret talks about moving the Rock Cats to Hartford. This raises questions about transparency, as well as questions about how money is being spent.

Why had the stadium not been mentioned at any of those meetings that Thom Deller had taken part in? Continue reading 'A Strikeout for Transparency in City Hall'»

Public Support for Funding Carousel Renovation

City Council’s monthly public hearing did not even reach twenty minutes on Monday.

Nobody signed up to speak.

There were two items up for discussion.

One (an ordinance creating a Commission on the Homeless) received no comments from the public, nor explanation from the five (Alexander Aponte, Joel Cruz, Jr., Raul De Jesùs Jr., Cynthia Jennings, and Larry Deutsch) present members of the Council.

The other — a move to allocate a chunk of change from the Parks and Playground Enhancements account in the Capital Improvement Fund to an account for renovation and expansion of the carousel building in Bushnell Park — garnered a whopping five comments from the public after some awkward attempts on behalf of the Council to get those folks out of their seats and to the microphone.

None of those individuals speaking in favor of this identified themselves as living in Hartford. Continue reading 'Public Support for Funding Carousel Renovation'»

A New COO, Finally

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By , March 19, 2014 1:11 pm

Pending approval by the City Council, Hartford will finally have a new Chief Operating Officer.

Darrell Hill, who has served as Assistant City Manager for the City of Norfolk, Virginia, is the selection according to a message from the Mayor’s Office.

Mayor Segarra says that Hill is “uniquely qualified because of his strong background in public finance, economic development/redevelopment and his knowledge of the specific challenges that come with managing an urban area.” Segarra called Hill “a straight shooter.”

David Panagore had previously served as Chief Operating Officer, resigning in September 2012. The City Council has this appointment as an agenda item for its March 24th meeting.


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