Category: Asylum Hill

Grid, Interrupted: Budding Flower Street

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By , April 2, 2014 12:11 pm

It is a dumping ground for snow or a makeshift parking lot on parade days, now that the barricades have rendered Flower Street a nothing of a place, a glorified driveway for the Hartford Courant on one end and the same for Aetna on the other.

The road was previously divided before, with the stretch between the Park River and Farmington Avenue known as Flower Street, and what was south of the water, known as Lawrence. Other times, Lawrence was only the continuation south of Capitol Avenue. There have been various bridges before the covering of the Park River, showing how the desire for connectivity has spanned centuries.

Currently, poor infrastructure decisions reign in the Capitol-to-Farmington area, with the highway, and now busway, dicing up neighborhoods. In the 19th century, this area did more than provide commuters with a speedy way in and out.

Defined in an 1858 city directory as spanning “from Little River, north to 13 Farmington,” Flower Street appeared on record. Queen Street, north of the railroad tracks, connected Flower and Broad. Continue reading 'Grid, Interrupted: Budding Flower Street'»

Hartford Promises

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By , March 20, 2014 2:47 pm

In recent months, the entire Weaver High School community has been mobilized by the Hartford Board of Education’s poor communication about the school’s temporary move to the Lincoln Institute and the plan to eventually rehabilitate and rebuild the north end school. Tuesday night’s Board meeting once again found students, teachers, and Weaver families demanding action and answers from the Board. There were few to be found, but much talk of “due diligence.” The uncertainty and anxiety among the Weaver community was palpable, as too was the growing mistrust of the Board and its hollow words. Speakers, including Principal Tim Goodwin, admonished Mayor Segarra, who was not in attendance, for suggesting that Weaver’s low enrollment could affect the school’s reconstruction. Goodwin demanded that enrollment issues be taken off the table and not be a part of the discussion. He cited the school’s continued improvement according to multiple metrics, including decreased disciplinary referrals. Through the years, Weaver High has been especially hampered by the breaking up of Hartford’s traditional high schools and the “school choice” reform scheme. Lastly, it was clear Tuesday night that Michele Rhee’s privatization front group StudentsFirst had attempted to glom onto Weaver’s struggle, going so far as to blindly hand out as many of their unrelated t-shirts as possible to students.

Since the Board’s failed attempt to hand the Clark School to the Achievement 1st charter school corporation two months ago, Clark was entered in to the Commissioner’s Network of schools in need of “turnaround.” A “turnaround committee” of parents, teachers, and the State Department of Education has been meeting to develop a plan for Clark. Parallel to this, HART was contracted by the Board to garner support among the community for another charter takeover of the school. This time a charter school corporation called Friendship Charter School of Maryland has been identified as the favorite by the Commissioner of Education. As has been reported in Real Hartford, the Clark community is unwilling to be bullied, bought off, or threatened into this deal. During Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent Kishimoto blamed outside interests for the problems with the committee. In her report on Clark, she warned of parents being “lobbied heavily by organizations placing pressures on parents on matters beyond the immediate and urgent needs of Clark School students.” She chided these mysterious groups and mentioned that parents were complaining to her personally about the “pressure.” Continue reading 'Hartford Promises'»

DOT Committed in Court to Building Bridge for Pedestrians and Cyclists

By , March 18, 2014 9:22 am

Glossing over the matter of safety and likening the plaintiff’s issue with the Flower Street closure to one of “inconvenience,” the Superior Court in Hartford ruled to dismiss the lawsuit against James Redeker, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Christopher Brown had sought a writ of mandamus– a resolution that would require the CT DOT reopen Flower Street for cyclists and pedestrians as DOT’s hearing officer Judith Almeida had ruled previously. With the dismissal, the DOT is permitted to leave a city street permanently closed to all forms of traffic.

Attorney Ken Krayeske said the outcome was not unexpected. “We knew going in that a mandamus presents a unique challenge: how do you prove a plaintiff has a legal right to something?,” he said.

“We understood the uphill odds, but we filed because the Connecticut Department of Transportation relegates cyclists and pedestrians to second class citizenship,” Krayeske said.

View from the “mitigation path” that goes between Broad Street and Flower Street. The broken fence between the Interstate and path adds confidence for those expecting a safe route, free of wayward vehicles.

The DOT, now backed by the court, has said that an east-west path sufficiently mitigates the closure of a north-south route. The bike lanes on Broad Street have been accepted by them and the court as another solution to the closure. The new lanes and bike boxes on Broad Street were painted in November; the paint is already nearly completely eroded in places and few cyclists use it. According to dozens of cyclists, this stretch of Broad Street is not significantly safer since the installment of these lanes. In the last month, huge potholes in the Broad Street and Capitol Avenue intersection have not made things easier for those on two wheels. Although not directly part of the Flower Street situation, a nearby stretch of the East Coast Greenway which has been identified as the responsibility of the State had gone neglected for weeks while a large sheet of ice made walking and cycling a challenge. Continue reading 'DOT Committed in Court to Building Bridge for Pedestrians and Cyclists'»

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'»

CTfastrak to Prompt More Temporary Closures

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By , February 24, 2014 9:53 pm

Originally supposed to happen at the beginning of the month, the temporary closure of the I-84 West entrance ramp on Capitol Avenue will be happening on February 27, 28, and it looks like March 1. The bulletin released by CTfastrak says that the ramp will be closed starting at 10pm on both February 27 and February 28, and then re-opening the following mornings at 5.  Continue reading 'CTfastrak to Prompt More Temporary Closures'»

#younghARTford: Second Time Around

By , February 19, 2014 10:08 am

Enough Elephants in the Room for a Circus

Hartford is a small, diverse city. The 2010 census data indicates that 38.7% of its population identifies as black, 43.4% identifies as Hispanic, and 15.8% identify as white, non-Hispanic. The rest falls into categories of white, Asian, American Indian, Pacific Islander, and biracial/multiracial. Of course, we know these numbers do not reflect those who are not reached by data collectors; historically, blacks and Hispanics are undercounted.

Knowing this, questions were raised going into last week’s #youngHartford forum about the blatant lack of racial diversity on the panel.

Carlos Hernández Chávez, a local with a solo exhibit currently on display in the ArtWalk Gallery, posed a similar line of questions while in the audience of the Courant/Fox/HYPE-sponsored event: “I’ve been here [in Hartford] 47 years,” he said. “Hartford right now is over 50% Hispanic. How many of you are Hispanic here?” he asked the audience. A few hands were lifted. “That’s not 50%.”

Hernández Chávez said this was not about creating guilt for anyone, but this subject had to be discussed.

“How many dark faces do you see here?” he continued. “If we want to see Hartford thrive,” he said, “then “you have to look at that issue.”

But not everyone has been wiling to do that. Sidestepping unpleasant controversy is just easier for some, including those who had both an audience and a microphone but chose to use neither for the greater good.

That’s not to say that all of the panelists were complacent. Continue reading '#younghARTford: Second Time Around'»

Known Knowns and Unknown Unknowns: Hartford BOE Edition

By , February 7, 2014 3:39 pm

Although Tuesday night’s Hartford Board of Education special meeting had only two agenda items for public comment, you would have never known it from the hundreds of people, especially Weaver students, who packed into the Fred D. Wish Elementary School gymnasium. It was a sea of forest green hoodies. Proudly emblazed on the hoodies was the rallying cry of the night: “Weaver Strong.” In addition, Weaver students greeted every attendee with a handout celebrating the school’s achievements. Thundering drum beats in the school’s lobby foretold of a battle. Handheld placards proclaiming “Weaver Forever” were placed on every seat. Ironically, the presumed fight over the future of Weaver High School was the least contentious event of the night.

The massive turnout of Weaver students, parents, alumni, and staff was the dissatisfaction with the Board’s communication with the school’s community. The show of force was to ensure the survival of Weaver, including its traditions, history, and legacy. The issue at hand was the future move of Weaver Culinary Academy to a temporary location at the Lincoln Culinary Institute on Sigourney St. Weaver High School is slated for a $100 million rehabilitation and the entire school must be relocated to Lincoln while construction occurs.

Rumors had been swirling over the future of Weaver, but the real issue, as the school’s principal Tim Goodwin explained, was the glacial pace of the project and the numerous unanswered questions over the school’s future. The leadership of the Blue Hills Civic Association also peppered the board with questions over the developer of the Weaver site and lack of communication with the neighborhood. Continue reading 'Known Knowns and Unknown Unknowns: Hartford BOE Edition'»

When the Media Teams Up with Public Schools

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By , February 4, 2014 5:38 pm

Those not immersed in the field of education might believe the recent attention to Common Core and teacher evaluations came out of nowhere. With the exception of items that are unavoidable, such as the nonrenewal of the superintendent’s contract, local news reporting has trended glossy on education, biased toward the status quo which goes by the name “education reform.”

Last month, the Hartford Courant and Hartford Public Schools announced the plan to partner, specifically with the Journalism Academy. The details on this, along with potential price tag, are still being hashed out.

Already, HPS has contracts with Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Inc.

With such partnerships, there are a few clear winners. Continue reading 'When the Media Teams Up with Public Schools'»

Residents Get Free Tours of Stowe House

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By , February 3, 2014 4:03 pm
Hartford residents will be able to tour the Harriet Beecher Stowe House for free on any Saturday during 2014. This is made possible through funding from the Greater Hartford Arts Council.

 

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