suggestion box

Suggestion Box: Plan Outside the Conference Room Box

Ample space for a bike lane and other street improvements on Bartholomew Avenue

Ample space for a bike lane and other street improvements on Bartholomew Avenue. Pics in this article were all taken in the middle of a regular workday.

 

If you’ve been to one planning workshop, you’ve been to nearly them all. Typically, these are held in a meeting room with no windows. To an extent, we get why this happens. We live in a sedentary society that bristles at even temporary discomfort. That, and everyone always wants to use Powerpoint.

But is this the best way to solicit input from those who are using the streets, parks, and buildings under discussion for redesign? Barring weather extremes where participants might get heat stroke or frostbite, could we reconsider at least some of these venues? (more…)

Suggestion Box: More Comprehensive Drivers’ Education

If you spend any amount of time commuting in Greater Hartford by way of anything other than single-occupancy vehicle, you know there is a stigma to it. More than the stigma, there are countless safety issues — motorists turning right on red without stopping to look in all directions first; drivers who use no judgement about whether or not they can completely move through an intersection, who end up blocking crosswalks; bus stops that are not shoveled, forcing people to board by standing in snowbanks or the streets; motorists who choose to not remove copious amounts of snow from their vehicles before getting on the highway. (more…)

Suggestion Box: Big Community Baking Events

Young children, elderly, and all ages in between participated in the Mega Challah Bake at the Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford last weekend. Imagine: 250 girls and women, in one giant room, making bread together — many for the first time. Participants were provided with all ingredients, tools, aprons, and even bags for taking home their bread.

The event opened with a few words and an open buffet. Directions were provided in print, on an overhead projector, and over the sound system. While everyone mixed and kneaded ingredients, lively music played. More experienced bakers helped out the newbies at their tables. The challah buffet re-opened and a guest speaker took to the stage while everyone waited for their dough to rise. Challah was braided, covered in egg, and given a few extras — rainbow sprinkles were a popular topping with the younger participants. (more…)

Suggestion Box: More Visible Bike Parking

Traveling through Downtown Hartford, it seems that the parking lots are among the most visible features. That’s partly why it is so laughable when people complain about this alleged lack of parking. It’s everywhere and it’s damn hard to miss.

But for those who ride (or would like to ride) bikes, our version of a parking lot — bike racks and lockers — tend to be invisible while out in the open. Or, invisible while hidden away. (more…)

Suggestion Box: Ask More of the Chain Stores

There are six CVS stores in Hartford. Only one is in a building with any architectural flair, and that downtown location is set to move into another space in the near future. (The one on Washington Street built in place of an historical building that was torn down instead of reused does not count as having character.) Otherwise, the ubiquitous pharmacy with a penchant for dull, box construction — with an easy-to-reverse-your-car-through façade —  presents opportunity for visual improvement. This is equally true of other chain stores found in Hartford, from gas stations to doughnut shops.

A CVS on the corner of Thayer and Cushing Street in Providence shows that another reality is possible. CVS paid RISD students to create the mural. It has not been without some controversy, partly because everything just has to be controversial these days, but regardless: Artists were paid. (more…)

Suggestion Box: Patching the Budget Hole

How we got here

The City of Hartford’s economic problems did not just happen. They did not spring up when Mayor Bronin was sworn into office. They did not emerge last year or even the year before that. (more…)

Suggestion Box: More Festive Winterfest

Winterfest is no longer a brand new thing. There has been time enough to iron out the kinks, yet, kinks remain. Since June, residents have been essentially ordered by the mayor to dream big, so here are some modest-sized dreams for improving upon what already exists.

Gimme Shelter

The rink has already been closed several days this season when it has been cold enough for ice to exist, but the skating surface got wrecked by a little drizzle. Extreme cold, extreme heat, and monsoons should close down Winterfest for a day now and then, but a little rain shower should not. A temporary canopy over the ice rink would provide shelter for skaters during light rain and would extend ice time. When severe storms are predicted, that canopy could be taken down and stored. We know that access to one of these exists — it has made appearances at Envisionfest.

At the very least, the Winterfest powers-that-be could redirect those wanting some public skating time to use the year-round indoor rink inside of the Koeppel Community Center on New Britain Avenue on days when the outdoor rink is closed. (more…)