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).
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'»
With another hearing on the Downtown North Redevelopment Plan tonight, residents might want to know how this fits in with One City, One Plan — Hartford’s plan of conservation and development which underwent a long process involving many public meetings of its own. Links to that document have been disappeared from the City of Hartford website in recent days, making that task impossible to those who did not have the foresight to download or obtain personal copies of the document meant to guide City development over the next ten years.
Here is the document for readers to peruse:
There was also a document created in 2009 by the Perez administration. In this, the vision for the Trumbull-Main area is spelled out: residential, small offices, small-scale retail, and small service businesses. Continue reading 'What is Allowed in Downtown North?'»
There will be a special public hearing held at the Parker Memorial Community Center, 2621 Main Street, on September 17 at 6:30p.m.
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'»
In August it came to light that the budget for the Salvation Army’s Marshall House had been cut. Conversations on restoring that funding appeared to be going nowhere in City Hall, but once the issue was given local media attention, there was a rush to find ways to move money around. What kind of city would Hartford be if it cut the funding for one of the few shelters that serves women and families, and acts as a no-freeze shelter on especially cold days?
The promise to restore funding was made official at Monday’s City Council meeting when the transfer of $100,000 from the Sundry Account to the Department of Health & Human Services was passed.
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'»
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'»
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'»
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?
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'»