Category: mayor

Discussion of New Location for Frog Hollow Library Branch

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

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'»

Heaven’s Open

Photo courtesy of Andy Hart

Continue reading 'Heaven’s Open'»

Mayor Says Stadium Resolution Needs to be Revised

In a message from the Mayor’s Office today, Segarra says that based on public feedback, there will be a change in the stadium proposal regarding financing:

Some media outlets have been reporting that the public financing component has completely disappeared.

This is false.

A letter obtained by CT News Junkie from Mayor Segarra to the City Council spells out that the proposal to obtain a parcel of land considered necessary to this stadium plan remains in place.

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'»

Goodwin Park Golf Course to Re-Open this Week

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By , June 25, 2014 6:30 pm

Closed since November, the public golf course will be officially re-opening Thursday morning following at 10:30 appearance by Mayor Segarra. The City of Hartford has spent upwards of $1 million to repair it.

The Keney Park Golf Course will remain closed for the 2014 season as it also undergoes extensive repairs.

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'»


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