Category: library

Discussion of New Location for Frog Hollow Library Branch

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By , July 22, 2014 9:28 am

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'»

Open Government: As American as Apple Pie(chart)

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By , July 7, 2014 9:19 am

One of the most (possibly unintentionally) offensive things that I have been asked on occasion about information published here: “Is that true?”.

As if I have nothing better to do than knowingly publish rumors and false information, waiting for the libel lawsuits to roll in.

For those who wonder how Real Hartford, not being a traditional media source, finds out some information, there are two upcoming free workshops that could demystify this. Continue reading 'Open Government: As American as Apple Pie(chart)'»

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'»

July 2014 Events

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By , June 26, 2014 7:52 am

Do you need programmed events? Put on some sneakers and walk around. This photo was taken on a path along the Park River, accessible from where Lorraine Street turns. Park River trails are also accessible from Mark Twain Drive (near Plainfield Street) and Brookfield Street (near Flatbush Avenue).

Here’s some of what is happening in Hartford:

July  1

  • Love Wins on Oakland Terrace: free family festival from 5-7pm at Glory Chapel, 221 Greenfield Street.
  • Drop into Real Art Ways for Real Board (Games). Play the games they provide or bring your own. 6-10pm. Free.
  • Fed Up, a documentary about the food industry, screens at Cinestudio at 7:30pm. General admission is $9.

July 2

  • The Kid, a Charlie Chaplin film, will be screened in the Hartford Public Library at 1:30 and 5:30pm today. Free.
  • Love Wins on Barbour Street: free family festival from 5-7pm featuring haircuts, pony rides, face painting, music, and more. This will be hosted by The Hartford Project and the Citadel of Love, 167 Barbour.
  • Every Wednesday — as long as it isn’t raining — there will be free yoga in Elizabeth Park at 5:30pm. Bring your own mat or towel. Yoga is in the picnic area across from the Pond House.
  • Hartford 2000 is hosting what it calls an “informational meeting” about the proposed Rock Cats stadium. This will be held at the Hartford Public Library at 6pm. Mayor Segarra and other City officials are expected to be presented to answer questions and listen to public opinion. As of publication, only Segarra has been named as a speaker. Continue reading 'July 2014 Events'»

May 2014 Events

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By , April 27, 2014 9:40 pm

May 1

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration, in partnership with Hartford Public Library and the Hartford SCORE chapter, is hosting a 5 week small business workshops series taught by SBA employees and business professionals. Most of the classes deal with money and taxes, with the final one devoted to marketing. The classes are two hours apiece, beginning at 5:30pm. This is free, but space is limited to thirty people, so register soon: 860.695.6334
  • Celebrate East Indian culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum’s First Thursday event. There will be Bollywood dance lessons, henna, Indian-inspired food, tours, and more. 5-8pm. $5.  Lagaan will be screened at 7:30 pm.
  • The Trinity Chapel Singers will be performing in the main chapel on the Trinity College campus, starting at 7:30pm.

May 2

BECK & CALL: The Servants Tour at Mark Twain’s house, 5/2

  • Listen as the City Council meets to discuss the financial overview of the budget. This meeting will include discussion related to the Management & Budget Office, Finance Department, Capital Improvement Plan, Office of the City Treasurer, and Human Resources Department. This begins at 5:30 pm in Council Chambers.
  • Steven Raider-Ginsburg of HartBeat Ensemble is directing BECK & CALL: The Servants Tour at the Mark Twain House. There has already been some reaction to the event’s poster, but those familiar with HartBeat Ensemble should expect something subversive and daring. The Mark Twain House & Museum describes the event: “Help! The servants at Mark Twain’s House are expecting a full-on assault of overnight guests. With famous faces coming for an elegant dinner, three guest rooms to prepare and 25 rooms worth of dusting, the hired help may need a helping hand. With BECK & CALL, our fun, new interactive nighttime servants tour of The Mark Twain House, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to get the Clemens home ship-shape for overnight entertaining. You may even be asked to pitch in! With costumed interpreters appearing throughout the house, fans of “Upstairs/Downtairs” and “Downton Abbey” will love this look at the organized chaos that it took to cook, clean and clothe the Clemens Family.” Tours begin at 7pm. Reservations are required and tickets can be purchased online.

Continue reading 'May 2014 Events'»

April 2014 Events

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By , March 26, 2014 11:25 pm

This is a kinda a big deal

April 1

  • The Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Hartford offers free classes and workshops. Today’s is “Small Business T.I.P.S. Series: Low Cost High Impact Marketing.” From 9:30 until noon, learn about marketing in Butterworth Hall, 1265 Asylum Avenue. They request that you register.
  • Real Art Ways hosts a monthly Real Board (Games) and that happens to be tonight. Stop in between 6-10pm and play. Free. 

April 2

  • This month’s Get HYPEd networking event will be held at the Polish National Home, 60 Charter Oak Avenue. We like that HYPE picks a different venue each month, and we love that this is the venue tonight! Besides the standard drink-and-network stuff, they will be holding a community collection for the Hands On Hartford backpack program, which gives 285 Hartford students bags full of food to take home for the weekend so that they are fed when not in school. Items requested: individual cereal boxes and oatmeal packets, granola/cereal bars, macaroni and cheese, canned soup, juice boxes (100% juice), applesauce, canned veggies, canned beans, pasta sauce, pasta, peanut butter, and jelly. The food donations are optional. This event is free to attend and goes from 5:30-8:30pm.
  • Stop into the Firebox (539 Broad) to listen to the uptempo sounds of Ed Fast & Conga Bop. No cover charge. 8:30pm.

April 3

  • Get out from under that rock! Trinity College is going into its ninth year of hosting its international hip-hop festival, and if you don’t know, you’re not paying attention! It starts today with lectures on “Media Representations of Global Hip Hop,” “Hip Hop as a Social Movement,” and “Hip Hop Activism pre- and post-Apartheid,”  from 8am-4:30pm. At 4pm, there’s a screening of the film Say My Name: Women. Hip Hop. Life. The Producer’s Showcase starts in the Vernon Social Hall at 7pm. The Mill will be hosting a spoken word event, beginning at 8:30pm. These events are completely free and open to the general public. 
  • First Thursday After Hours at the Wadsworth: TANGO! Take dance lessons or just watch others. Make paper flowers. Wander the museum. Stick around for the film Elsa & Fred. The AAH event is 5-8pm, with the film at 8. $5 general admission, free for members. Continue reading 'April 2014 Events'»

Multi-Cultural Poetry Celebration in the Neighborhoods

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By , March 11, 2014 2:54 pm

Tired of schlepping downtown for every last event? Bessy Reyna has curated the Hartford Loves Poetry reading series in April for National Poetry Month. This means that over two weeks, each of the ten Hartford Public Library branches will be hosting a poetry reading and workshop.

The event will kick off on April 7th with Jose B. Gonzalez at the Park Branch (744 Park Street). The Goodwin Branch (460 New Britain Avenue) will host Marianela Medrano on April 8th; Leslie McGrath will appear at the Dwight Branch (7 New Park Avenue). Pit Pinegar will be reading at the Camp Field Branch (30 Campfield Avenue) on April 9th and John Stanizzi will be at the Albany Branch (1250 Albany Ave) on April 12th. Also on April 12th, the Barbour Branch (281 Barbour Street) will host Ernie Blue. Joyce Ashuntantang will read at the Mark Twain Branch (55 Forest Street) on April 14th. The Blue Hills Branch (649 Blue Hills Avenue) will host Antoinette Brim on April 15. Poet Kate Rushin will be reading at the Ropkins Branch (1750 Main Street) on April 16th. Weekday readings are scheduled for 5:30-7:15pm; Saturday readings will go from 3-5pm.

The series closes on April 19th with a Grand Finale at the Downtown Branch, 1-4pm. Reyna said that community presenters will be reading poems in their own languages Continue reading 'Multi-Cultural Poetry Celebration in the Neighborhoods'»

March 2014 Events

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By , February 26, 2014 9:06 am

March 1

  • Free admission to the Connecticut Historical Society galleries today, 9am-5pm.
  • TNMOT-AZTRO: Projector Series II — from 7-8pm, watch a performance that blends dance, fashion, and visual media at The Garden Center for Contemporary Dance, 56 Arbor Street, Suite 411. $5 minimum donation.
  • Night of the Gypsies: The evening features live music by accordionist Markus and violinist Annalise, fortune telling by Madame Johnny Frechette Super Fine Artist, henna hand painting, and dancing to DJ Jon Eastman. There will be art and more for sale by Anne Cubberly, Alexia Lalande, Jen Bonee, Karen Weiser Kelly, and from Blaze and Bloom. This will be at the Dirt Salon, 50 Bartholomew Avenue, from 8pm-midnight. Tickets are $20 at door, $15 in advance. Continue reading 'March 2014 Events'»

Thoughts on Black Power

Butch Lewis: co-founder of Black Panther Party, Hartford chapter

The conversation was supposed to continue until 3pm, but well before that time, the library announced the panel would be wrapping up, despite panelists and audience members showing continued interest in having an actual conversation about the Black Panthers and continued racial tensions. This was not received well and people demanded to know why. There was mention of jazz starting at 3pm in the atrium. After some verbal resistance, the event was allowed to resume and panelists ended it on their own, just a few minutes before the official stop time.

Butch Lewis, co-founder of the Hartford chapter of the Black Panthers Party, observed that “we are more segregated now” in the city than when the party was active. He named the number of anti-poverty organizations in the city; without spelling it out, Lewis implied that the poverty agencies have been benefitting from this social injustice, rather than addressing it.

When looking at how race relations have changed, he was not the only person in the room to notice that the education system suffers. Councilwoman Cynthia Jennings, during Q&A, noted that while the Black Panther Party “gave us some alternatives,” Hartford still has “educational disparities” and that there are no black department heads. Continue reading 'Thoughts on Black Power'»

Explosions of Color by Carlos Hernández Chávez

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By , February 9, 2014 7:07 pm

Artist Carlos Hernández Chávez

If you were hoping for demure neutrals and pastels, you won’t find many here.

Carlos Hernández Chávez’s new solo exhibit, Dialogues: Impromptu Conversations in Color, provides a diversion from the time of year when winter is often less than lovely: now. The snowbanks are hard and gray, the streets are still a mess from last week’s storm, and if we hear one more debate over television stations naming winter storms, we are going to scream.

So, thank the artist for a free, temporary escape.  Continue reading 'Explosions of Color by Carlos Hernández Chávez'»


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