As expected, the deal was voted through, with no nay votes but three abstentions: Larry Deutsch (Working Families), David MacDonald (Democrat), and Raúl De Jesús, Jr. (Democrat).
Category: political b.s.
As the controversial Downtown North proposal goes to vote on Tuesday, there are still dozens of questions remaining unanswered, not to mention an outstanding FOIA request placed initially to Thomas Deller and Wayne Benjamin, and now to Maribel La Luz. Two camps seem to have emerged on this issue, and it’s not pro-stadium/anti-stadium. It’s those who find it reasonable to ask questions and expect thorough, detailed answers, and those who find critical thinking cringe-worthy.
We have been compiling reader questions since June. Here is what people still want to know about this project. Some reader questions were edited to add clarity:
- What details exist on the retail space and potential tenants?
- The City would be contributing land for the the construction of a brewery. Is it acceptable to use public funds to facilitate the production, distribution, and consumption of alcohol?
- What would the rent be for the housing? Would this fulfill the demand for the type of housing that exists in Hartford?
- How exactly would a stadium drive development? Give details. How has this occurred in cities that are comparable to Hartford in terms of population and wealth?
- Why isn’t there a proposal without a stadium?
- What documents were the task force provided with to help guide their process? What was the selection process criteria for the advisory committee/panel appointed by the development director? (This is the Real Hartford FOIA request that was placed on September 11, 2014 and has gone unfulfilled despite reminders) Continue reading 'Reader Questions About Downtown North Development'»
Downtown North Redevelopment is back on the agenda for tonight’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. This document has been prepared for the meeting:
Since City officials announced plans to build a stadium last June, more questions have been raised than answered. Among those questions:
- Do all parcels hold considerable market, retail, residential, and mixed-use development potential?
- Have all of these parcels been completely surveyed and do topographical maps exist for all parcels? How are developers able to do a proper feasibility study without designs overlaying the topo? Can that be done without site or land surveys?
- Did the City have a recent market appraisal done for all of the parcels?
- Are there environmental reports on all of these parcels? Are there any underground storage tanks/sewer lines at these parcels that will need to be moved? How much will it cost for asbestos remediation at 150 Windsor Street? What is the magnitude of these potential environmental issues? Who pays for environmental remediation costs?
- How much will it cost for the street realignment of Trumbull and Pleasant, along with the abandonment of Windsor? Who pays? How will this impact the flow of traffic with several nearby schools and colleges?
- Are there unpaid taxes on any of these properties? What is the City doing to collect?
- Is there a reason that the commercial developer is able to have these properties gifted? Isn’t the norm for the commercial developer to purchase the parcels they plan to develop? Is there a reason that the developers are not being asked to pay full fair market value for this land? Continue reading 'Questions Remain on Downtown North Revelopment'»
Despite the Hartford Community Loan Fund’s announcement that it was not going to continue pursuing the opening of a grocery store in Downtown North because developers and other partners felt the proposed stadium changed the nature of the environment this market would be in, a document issued to City employees this week claims otherwise.
Though other developers stepping in is a possibility, the HCLF has said that the City came to them years ago with the specific Downtown North area in mind. Research was conducted to find community-oriented partners who have experience and competence in working with urban markets.
The HCLF met with the City before the release of this document and let officials know that they could not move forward in that location so long as the stadium would be there.
This document also includes a hand-picked selection of news articles and opinion pieces that promote the stadium; articles containing serious questions about funding have not been included.
There have been concerns voiced by some in the community that “misinformation” about the stadium has been floating around. Real Hartford could not get questions answered at the press conference, nor were questions answered by later attempts to reach Segarra or Deller.
Here’s what’s been drafted as a lease agreement between City of Hartford and Connecticut Double Play, LLC.
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.”
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'»
Governor Malloy issued a letter to the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council on Tuesday urging more “flexibility” and a delay regarding the planned changes to teacher evaluations. There was no mention of delaying or canceling the standardized testing in March; those tests are central to this issue.
This relieves stress for many of those directly affected by the policy that was pushed through in 2012, but some in the media are playing this off as politicians merely being responsive to constituents. Although the current standardized testing does not encourage this, let’s apply some critical thinking and see what evidence leads us to believe. Continue reading 'Policy Delay a Sign of Responsiveness?'»
Mayor Segarra and the Board of Education could intervene any time to stop outgoing Superintendent Kishimoto from pushing an agenda that the community has loudly spoken against. They could urge her to focus on addressing the actual concerns that School Governance Councils want addressed at their respective schools. Instead, residents continue to scratch their heads over how someone whose contract was not renewed could stay on for an entire school year and wield power after being slammed on her own performance review, which incidentally, was the only review the Board of Education officially conducted for her.
In November, parents said “No” to the proposal to toss SAND School to a newly formed private management company linked to Capital Prep Magnet School’s principal, Steve Perry. Just days before that, Clark School parents said “No” to the plan to hand the public school over to the Achievement First charter school chain.
Opponents of public schooling have framed this as a grand conspiracy led by unionists; while the teacher’s union has had involvement, it has been minimal, which is plain to anyone who has been paying attention. Parents have been leading the fight against disrupting their children’s educations by closing schools.
Now, Superintendent Kishimoto is pushing for Clark and SAND to become part of the Commissioner’s Network; Continue reading 'Lame Duck Superintendent Pushing Again to Hand Over Clark and SAND'»
Following the latest hearing at the Connecticut Department of Transportation, one community member asked, “How much does Hartford’s Deputy Corporation Counsel Van Norden get paid to do nothing more than show up and read straight from a letter the Mayor wrote?”
The same could be asked of all ConnDOT representatives, aside from Judith Almeida, the Department of Transportation’s staff attorney and only employee appearing prepared for Wednesday evening’s first of two Flower Street Closing reconsideration hearings.
How could anyone have been prepared to respond to the City of Hartford’s 180° pulled minutes before the beginning of the hearing? This reversal, issued by Mayor Segarra, has been viewed by some in the community as a betrayal to residents and businesses, as a show of spinelessness, and one more poor decision in a stream of recent questionable choices.
In late April, officials from the City met with residents and stakeholders to discuss how to best move forward with the situation. The majority view was to keep pushing back against the DOT and not settle. This is what was supposed to be relayed back to Mayor Segarra: the neighborhood won’t settle. It wants to fight.
The few who did think having some settlement between the City and the DOT was a practical option insisted on having everything drawn up in writing to give it teeth. If it were to settle, the City, as of April, was going to include in its demands having the DOT commit to spend $30 million on Capitol Avenue improvements, look at making Sigourney Street safer for cyclists, alter State policies regarding affordable housing in Hartford, and more.
Throughout that meeting, the consensus was that nobody wanted a $6 million ramp built over the busway that would likely need to be removed in a few years when the viaduct is removed.
What also emerged in that meeting was the deep distrust everyone at the table — including City of Hartford employees — have regarding the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Thomas Deller, the Director of Hartf’ord’s Department of Development Services said he was “appalled” by how CTfastrak has done its planning, categorizing it as “haphazard.” A resident said, “the City has been victimized by the DOT for decades.”
By all accounts, it seemed that the City was going to fight the best it could for its residents and business owners.
Instead, Mayor Segarra effectively threw Hartford under the busway. Continue reading 'Constituents Sold Out in “Agreement” on Flower Street'»
While CTfastrak is attempting a series of public engagement meetings this month, it is simultaneously attempting to disengage one specific segment of the public: those opposed to the complete closure of Flower Street.
Running parallel to Broad Street between Capitol Avenue and Farmington Avenue, Flower Street has been the subject of controversy since the announcement that it would be barricaded for “safety” reasons. Several inquiries made for data supporting this claim that the New Britain-Hartford Busway/CTfastrak and the existing rail would significantly endanger lives if Flower Street remained open have been disregarded by those affiliated with CTfastrak and the Connecticut Department of Transportation. At a meeting in February, one employee laughed at the request, saying no such data existed.
At the same meeting, anyone who expressed concern with any part of the CTfastrak project was labeled a “detractor.”
Take time off from work on three consecutive days, travel to the Department of Transportation headquarters on the Berlin Turnpike, and wait around to speak out, even though the agency may arbitrarily not grant the status required for one’s voice to have any impact.
This is, according to the DOT’s Petition for Reconsideration, what the agency has in store.
The DOT, by the way, is petitioning itself. All decisions related to Flower Street have been made internally.
This latest petition was filed on March 6, 2013 by Timothy Wilson, the Manager of Highway Design in the DOT’s Bureau of Engineering and Construction. After the City of Hartford and others filed documents showing intent of having witnesses at the scheduled April 4th hearing, Wilson, in his petition, requested that the hearing take place over several days: