dept. public works

IDEAS FOR 50 MILLION CARROT STICKS

This is a reader-submitted piece by Miguel Jose Matos, Hartford resident of twenty years. This fits in with our Suggestion Box series and addresses the recent pledge of $50 million over five years to the City of Hartford by Aetna, The Hartford, and Travelers.

by Miguel Jose Matos

by Miguel Jose Matos

 

Three of our local corporations have stepped up as committed partners to back Hartford to the tune of $50 million dollars over five years, if the City can get its financial house under control and come up with a workable plan for a viable future.

Funding the money hinges on the City putting forth a comprehensive and sustainable set of solutions for Hartford. The key piece of language in the corporate announcement was to be “part of” a plan, this was the clue. But based on media reports, the “when and how” have not been clearly spelled out, so it’s a great carrot but as yet no one is sure how long the stick is, and what will it take for our community to come together. A little over three million a year from each company is a great start.

“Push the corporate folk to drop their dime, while the City hammers out some fixes, use their dimes now to fund fixes; that without money remain unfixable”.

$10 million over 5 years is a good first step when having to climb out of a sinkhole fifty million dollars deep. But to get grounded we must back into the numbers, because the City is crippled with debt and limping with weak cash flow. It will be difficult to concoct a financial plan strong enough because of the City’s weak cash position, only making it harder to satisfy the conditional $50M Corporate Offer.

Corporate leaders are good community folks doing their part, protecting their investment and their workforce, but they understand risk and do not want to throw good money after bad. This narrative puts the City in a tricky position.

This point in time is a good opportunity to show the local corporations that the City has a plan that can be funded bit by bit with the corporate funds that are being offered. A project-by-project funding process based on a pay for performance system may mitigate some the upfront risk that has tied these moneys with a tough condition.

This tactic has relevance because it is not meant to only address the corporate funding offer, but to serve as the foundation for an annual Business Challenge Fund. Let’s get back to the corporations and be as corporate in approach as they are. Corner their attention by putting forth a recovery plan that is based on a return on their money and their participation. The approach is in many ways how corporations look at investing themselves. (more…)

Leaf Collection

The City of Hartford (AKA your tax dollars) continues to provide leaf collection services at no extra cost.

This should require minimal explanation, but in its materials the Department of Public Works has had to clarify that leaves be placed loose curbside or in biodegradable paper bags; residents have put them in plastic bags in previous years.

Curbside leaf collection is not year-round, but a service provided from October-December. If you are willing to go the extra step by putting the leaves in bags, those will be picked up on your normal trash and recycle collection day during the seven-week period that begins October 31. (more…)

Urban Birds Celebrated in Elizabeth Park

Audubon Sharon sharin’ “Mandala,” a Red-tailed Hawk

Audubon Connecticut and Park Watershed presented a celebration of migratory birds at Elizabeth Park on Thursday, in part to mark 100 years of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Besides a guided bird walk and the chance to check out some birds of prey, the event featured chats from national and local experts.

Scott Johnston, Chief of Bird Population Program, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, explained what sparked the need for the treaty. Unregulated hunting of birds, primarily for use in hats, impacted the populations. These hats included all, pieces of, or just feathers from egrets, herons, terns, owls, and hummingbirds.

Today, Hartford and New Haven are recognized as two of the 26 places in the United States designated as Urban Bird Treaty Cities, meaning they have committed to education and action. (more…)

Temporary Closure of Bushnell Park Playground

Citing numerous safety concerns, Hartford’s DPW will begin removing the playground in Bushnell Park on Monday, April 18. The map, amphitheater, and “literary picnic grove” will remain.

Bushnell Park Foundation and DPW intend to install an accessible playground, with construction starting in the fall. To pay for this, the Bushnell Park Foundation has set up a donation page.

In the meantime, there is a public playground located in Pulaski Mall, just south of Downtown.

Suggestion Box: Patching the Budget Hole

How we got here

The City of Hartford’s economic problems did not just happen. They did not spring up when Mayor Bronin was sworn into office. They did not emerge last year or even the year before that. (more…)

Cemetery Improvements on Horizon

Photo taken July 19, 2014

Those who regularly visit Zion Hill Cemetery see that gravestones there are routinely toppled and destroyed. Unlike Cedar Hill Cemetery, where visitors are frequent and staff are visible, Zion Hill does not get nearly that level of care and attention throughout the year, despite being a fraction of Cedar Hill’s size and having a police substation opposite one corner. Gates remain open after hours.

What is thought of as one cemetery between Zion, Ward, Affleck, and Allen is actually a patchwork of various cemeteries. The City of Hartford maintains some of this; the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford’s Association of Jewish Cemeteries maintains the

Photo taken July 19, 2014

various other cemeteries found here. (more…)

Sprucing Up Bankside Grove

City vehicles have been spotted with growing frequency in the Bankside Grove section of Pope Park, with a major cleanup getting underway today. A few trees have been taken down in recent weeks, but today Mayor Bronin announced that DPW would be tackling the bulky waste that is often illegally dumped here, along with removing litter and understory vegetation.

According to the Mayor’s Office, this clean up is meant to “improve the attractiveness of the park along Park Terrace and enhance its ecological viability.” (more…)