Plan Updates | City News | Community Announcements

Conditional Support Given to Pathways School

3After much discussion and debate on the proposal to build the Pathways to Technology Magnet High School at the corner of Broad St and Farmington Ave, three community members of the Mayor’s Task Force gave a conditional nod June 20 to continue planning for the school.

Task Force members Bernie Michael, Sally Taylor and Phil Will received a commitment from Mayor Eddie Perez who also chairs the Hartford School Building Committee at the committee’s June 20 meeting. The conditions of community support are as follows:

  • The City Department of Development Services is designated as the lead agency for overseeing the Gateway planning process, in close coordination with the Department of Public Works;
  • Stakeholder groups, including the 3 community organizations participating in the current task force, are involved in a significant way;
  • Ken Greenberg is directed to provide early input as part of the Hartford 2010 planning effort;
  • Significant and immediate effort is made to
    • Evaluate alternative traffic plans,
    • Detail related environmental improvements, and
    • Detail a realistic implementation strategy to accomplish these improvements.

If these conditions are deemed acceptable by Mayor Perez, the representatives of the community groups will make their best efforts to achieve significant community support for the siting of the Pathways School at Farmington Avenue and Broad Street.  If these conditions cannot be met, or fail to be achieved, community support will not be forthcoming. (July 2006)


Urban Designer Ken Greenberg Reviews Pathways School Proposal

Mayor Eddie Perez brought noted urban planner Ken Greenberg and his traffic engineer, Fred Gorove, to Hartford April 17-18 to conduct a peer review on the proposal for placing the Pathways to Technology Magnet School at the corner of Broad and Farmington.

During the Hartford visit they met with school officials, consulted with traffic engineers from the City of Hartford and the Connecticut Department of Transportation, regional planning agency staff, building architects, the Farmington Avenue Alliance, Farmington Avenue Business District, the Asylum Hill Problem Solving Revitalization Association and the community at large.

Mr. Greenberg concluded a school could be built on the 2-acre site but said major improvements were needed to the streets surrounding the school and to the school’s building design to be successful.

Traffic engineer Fred Gorove outlined three preliminary concepts of how to improve the street network at the Farmington and Asylum Avenue merge, continuing as far west as Sumner Street. He proposed closing Asylum to through traffic where it meets Farmington, converting the unused roadbed into a greenway and bike/pedestrian path while allowing emergency access to surrounding buildings. Pedestrian improvements (adding width to the sidewalk and narrowing vehicle travel lanes) should also continue down Asylum Avenue beyond the train station to Bushnell Park Greenberg said.

Greenberg found the area road network confusing, with too much unnecessary pavement, poor pedestrian zones and difficult turning movements for vehicles leading to congestion and accidents at the Broad/Farmington/Cogswell/Asylum intersections. He believes traffic flow and safety would be greatly improved by eliminating some of the turning movements at the intersections.

Tom Maziarz, transportation planner for the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG), said he thought the timing may be right for serious attention to be paid to the road network in the vicinity of the proposed magnet school. He said previous efforts to improve the area only nibbled at pieces of the problem. Nothing that’s been done or is currently on the drawing board took a large enough view. Maziarz offered CRCOG’s help to bring interested parties together to determine how funding can be obtained to make major improvements.

Greenberg’s preliminary report also suggested significant changes to the building design. He recommended underground rather than surface parking, creating a more pedestrian-friendly face to the building along the sidewalk areas and tweaking the design to make sure the front door entrance at the corner of Broad and Farmington is actively used.

Charles Crocini who oversees construction of the magnet schools for the City of Hartford said a decision on whether or not the City will proceed with the site will have to be made soon if it is to meet court related deadlines and stay within budget. (April 24, 2006)


Farmington and Asylum Avenue Property Owners May Consider Proposal
to Establish a Business Improvement District
(Feb 2006)

Property owners with frontage on Asylum and Farmington Avenue in Hartford may have a rare opportunity to participate in a proposed Business Improvement District (BID) that would provide enhanced services, paid for by members of the BID, to supplement those provided by the City of Hartford.

Services might include sidewalk litter clean-up, streetscape beautification and improvements, street banners, graffiti removal, district promotions and public relations and hospitality/block watch services.

The neighborhood’s two major corporate citizens, Aetna and The Hartford, have been asked to join the proposal for a downtown BID but these companies are more likely to participate if their immediate neighborhood can receive services provided by the BID.

Here’s how the BID would work. Fifty one percent of property owners in the BID area must vote to join the BID which is funded and managed by its own members. If this occurs, every property will be assessed a fixed rate of 1 mil of assessed property value. The money is collected by the City and turned over to the BID to provide targeted services within the BID area.

Because the cost to individual property owners is based on the assessed value of each property, the largest amount of money to support the enhanced services of a BID will be paid by the neighborhood’s two largest taxpayers – Aetna and The Hartford. These two properties would contribute 80% of the cost of the BID while the remaining 118 potential properties to be included if the BID extended to Woodland Street on Asylum Avenue and Prospect Avenue on Farmington Avenue, would pay 20%.

The cost to an individual property owner is capped at 1 mil or $1 per thousand dollars of assessed property value. For example, for a property valued at $250,000, the total annual contribution to the BID would be $250.

The boundaries of the BID in the Asylum/Farmington Avenue area will be drawn based on interest in creating a BID by the affected property owners. The proposed BID territory is likely to extend from downtown Hartford as far as Sigourney Street. How far west it goes beyond Sigourney Street will be based on interest by property owners.

An information session on the BID is scheduled at the Hartford Children’s Theatre, 360 Farmington Avenue, Hartford on Thursday, May 4at 5 pm. Questions may also be directed to Phil Will, President of the Farmington Asylum Business District (860) 983-6070.


Magnet High School Proposed on Farmington Avenue

The City of Hartford’s Building Committee for Hartford Public Schools is evaluating a proposal for a 400-student technology magnet school at the corner of Broad Street and Farmington Avenue.

The school would be built on a vacant lot that had been fenced off and unkempt until a group of community volunteers planted trees, cut the grass and put in a walking path. (see story)

Mayor Eddie Perez, chair of the Building Committee, said the site is being considered for the school because it would not take more property of the tax rolls and its location near local employers would be an asset for the students.

The location has generated a lot of debate. Some people have cited concerns about traffic at the already congested corner, pedestrian safety, limited parking and air quality and noise impacts from the adjacent highway. Others view the school as a potential asset as it would create positive activity in a vacant corner and provide mentoring opportunities to students.

A decision on the fate of the proposed school location is expected in early 2006. (Jan. 2006)


CITY TO VOTE ON NEWSRACK ORDINANCE

The City of Hartford may vote to rein in the color, materials and location of newsracks that line city many major streets, including Farmington Avenue.

An ordinance that would regulate newsracks will come before the Court of Common Council in February. A public hearing on the issue is set for February 21 at 7 PM.

The Farmington Avenue Alliance has advocated for control of newsracks. The majority of the boxes contain advertisements that often spill out onto the sidewalks when boxes are tipped over and used for benches, especially at bus stops. (Feb 2006)



REVIVING A CITY CORNER

On a warm, sunny Saturday in early June, saws were buzzing, hammers were pounding and drummers were tapping a joyous rhythm. The Laurel Gardeners had organized a work party and celebration.

Clearly they had work to do.

More planters had to be built, mulch spread, and flower boxes filled with flowers. Two maple trees had just found a new home, replacing dying poplar trees removed the week before.

But community planting day organizers had more in mind than putting people to work. They wanted to bring people out to the one quarter acre plaza at the corner of Laurel and Farmington for a gathering with music, food and good spirit. They hoped to show how the plaza could be a community asset, not a place to avoid.

Lead organizer Brenda McCumber got money from the Greater Hartford Arts Council to pay for musicians and solicited area restaurants for food donations. Imlay Street resident Linda Johnson arranged for the Salvation Army to set up a canteen at the site that supplied food and water for the whole day.

Mayor Eddie Perez mingled with the 250-300 people at the Community Day. He told the gathering he thought the corner could go in either direction, “continue in a positive way, with community involvement like I see today or go the other way.” The mayor said he would do all he could to support the Laurel/Farmington area.

More Community Day Photos | Contributors List


ALLIANCE CELEBRATES
EARTH DAY AT CITY FAIR

The Farmington Avenue Alliance made its case for healthy streets at Hartford’s Earth Day Fair. Streets that are comfortable for walking and biking are healthier for people and mother earth. The Alliance had a booth at the Hartford Public Library, one of the locations for the festive event, and passed out bookmarks to visitors.

BANNERS MARKING WEST
END’S RISING STAR AREA
LINE FARMINGTON AVENUE

Fourteen banners heralding Mayor Perez’s rising star program line Farmington Avenue bringing a row of color to the avenue. The banners grace poles between Whitney and Prospect Avenue. West End blocks from Tremont to Prospect and Boulevard to Farmington are participating in the rising star program. Homeowners are entitled to low cost loans to fix up their property and other neighborhood improvements. A committee of neighbors has earmarked funds for planting trees, banners, new street signs advertising the historic West End and speed tables to calm traffic on Oxford, Tremont and Beacon Streets.

 


WEST END FARMERS' MARKET THRIVING
July 2005

Fresh fruits, flowers and vegetables are being sold at the corner of Whitney and Farmington on the side lawn of United Methodist Church on Tuesdays and Fridays from 4-7 p.m. Now in its third season, market organizer, Rob Miller is pleased with neighborhood support of the market, the only one in Hartford to offer music by local musicians as people shop.



Green Team Plants 40 Trees at Vacant Farmington Avenue Lot (Spring 2005)

A crew of 30 city and suburban volunteers led by Knox Parks Foundation took the first steps in reclaiming for civic use a vacant parcel at Farmington Avenue’s busiest intersection.

On a warm Saturday in April, 32 trees were planted along the property’s street edge. Flowering trees were planted along the highway edge of the parcel. Shade and ornamental trees now line the sidewalks of Farmington Avenue and Broad Street. Another 8 trees were planted in October.

The 2 1/2 - acre lot, formerly the site of Hartford Public High School, has been vacant since the 1960’s when the construction of Interstate 84 cut through the City of Hartford.

Thousands of workers pass the lot daily on their way to and from work.

Next step in the project will be to create a quarter-mile elliptical shaped stone dust path for people to use for walking or jogging. Once completed the 6-foot fence walling off the property will be removed. An existing memorial to the former Hartford Public, the second oldest public high school in the nation and is fondly remembered by many graduates who live in the Hartford area, will be relocated to a more prominent area on the site.

The project has been aided by former Hartford Public High School graduate James Kinsella who administers the Alexander A. Goldfarb Memorial Trust.

Click here for more pictures at the Urban Forum's website.


Banners Springing Up in Asylum Hill

To celebrate and highlight 16 building and restoration projects recently completed, now underway or in the works, banners are rising throughout the Asylum Hill neighborhood.

Ken Johnson, Executive Director of NINA (Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance) spearheaded the project working with neighbors and the Greater Hartford Arts Council. Funding assistance was provided by The Hartford.

 

 
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