(Jan 21, 2016) Today, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin announced that the Department of Public Works will begin a major cleanup of the Bankside Grove in Pope Park, removing litter, bulky waste and understory vegetation. The purpose of the project is to improve the attractiveness of the park along Park Terrace and enhance its ecological viability.
“DPW is committed to maintaining our city’s physical infrastructure in emergencies and year around, and our parks are one of our most important assets,” Mayor Bronin said. “This cleanup work at Pope Park is part of our overall focus on strengthening neighborhoods and improving the quality of life for residents.”
“Taking advantage of the warmer weather and light snowfall, we have been very busy on major projects in the City” said Public Works Director Marilynn Cruz-Aponte. “We are mustering a large force to complete this cleanup quickly and efficiently.”
The site is mostly forested with oaks and maples, with a dense understory of shrubs and vines. Many of the species are invasive and have diminished the ecological value of the area by choking out other species more useful to wildlife.
“Over the years, a large amount of litter and debris has accumulated in that portion of the park” said Public Works Superintendent Tom Baptist. “This is an opportunity to replant helpful native species for the benefit of birds and other wildlife.”
Depending on the weather, the work is expected to take two weeks to complete. The project is headed by City Forester Heather Dionne, who is marking individual trees for pruning and identifying specific shrubs to remain. Hiking trails will be preserved and open for continued use. A dilapidated concrete stairway will also be removed.
DPW is planning additional cleanup efforts at Keney Park in the near future.
(Jan 20, 2016) Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin today announced that the City has received financial commitments from both the Hartford Yard Goats and DoNo Hartford, LLC, an affiliate of Centerplan Companies, to help fund a significant portion of the $10.3 million shortfall in the construction of the city’s new Dunkin’ Donuts Park.
Under the agreement negotiated by Mayor Bronin, the City of Hartford will receive $2 million from the Hartford Yard Goats baseball team, as well as a $2.3 million contribution from stadium developer DoNo Hartford LLC. DoNo Hartford LLC will also pay approximately $225,000 per year in additional taxes on the DoNo development for the life of any bonds issued by the City or the Hartford Stadium Authority. In addition, the City will no longer be responsible for paying approximately $500,000 to improve the indoor parking garage that was to be made available as parking for the Yard Goats.
As a result of the agreement, the Hartford City Council will be asked to approve an additional $5.5 million in new Hartford Stadium Authority construction funding, and DoNo Hartford LLC's additional tax payments will support approximately $2 million of that debt, leaving taxpayers to support approximately one-third of the total construction funding gap.
Under the revised agreement, the new substantial completion date for the stadium is May 17, 2016, and the stadium is expected to be available for an opening day of May 31, 2016, though Minor League Baseball's Eastern League has yet to finalize the Yard Goats schedule.
“No one wants to put more taxpayer money into this ballpark, but we have to play the hand we've been dealt," stated Mayor Bronin. “Our responsibility is to get the project back on track and avoid further delays that could result in additional costs to taxpayers and compromise the broader development at Downtown North. The deal we are announcing today represents our best effort to protect both the short- and long-term interests of Hartford's taxpayers."
Mayor Bronin added, “Let me be clear: no one is waving a 'mission accomplished' banner today. There is much work to be done, not only to complete the ballpark but to ensure that the rest of the downtown north development proceeds as promised. I am thankful that both the team and the developer contributed to a solution, and I look forward to working with them to ensure that the project proceeds on the revised schedule.”
Under the agreement, DoNo Hartford LLC has also committed to opening an office within the North Hartford Promise Zone to provide guidance, information and opportunity to Hartford residents and minority-owned business enterprise contractors to participate in the future development of the Downtown North Project.
Last month, representatives from stadium developer DoNo Hartford, LLC informed Hartford City officials and the Hartford Stadium Authority that the project was $10.3 million over budget and would not be ready for the previously scheduled Opening Day on April 7, 2016.
“The City Council understands the importance of completing the Stadium as soon as possible and wants to make sure this process is fair and transparent,” said Hartford City Council President T.J. Clarke. “The Council will work diligently to pursue a prudent course of action that protects the best interests of Hartford’s residents and taxpayers.”
The Mayor will hold a town hall next Monday to discuss the agreement with Hartford residents. The Town Hall will be held at 5 p.m., Monday, January 25, at the Hartford Public Library downtown, at 500 Main Street in the atrium.
(Jan 19, 2016) Today, Mayor Luke Bronin met with senior officials in the Obama Administration to discuss opportunities for partnership with the City of Hartford in key priority areas, including criminal justice reform and reentry, engaging disengaged youth, combatting homelessness, and the use of technology to improve municipal services. Mayor Bronin was part of a small group of newly-elected mayors invited to the White House to meet with senior officials including, among others, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President; Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama; and Shaun Donovan, Director of Office of Management.
“President Obama has made it a priority to partner with cities, and I welcomed the opportunity to discuss some of our key priorities with the President's top advisors,” Mayor Bronin said. “The President's commitment to reforming our criminal justice system, promoting second chances, combatting homelessness, and engaging disengaged young people will make a real difference in Hartford. I look forward to following up with our federal and state partners and complementing the President's efforts with concrete action at the local level here in Hartford."
Approximately ten mayors participated in this afternoon's meeting, including the mayors of Charleston, SC, Toledo, OH, Nashville, TN, and Flint, MI, among others.
In addition, Mayor Bronin met separately today with officials from the National League of Cities (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education, and Families; the Corporation for Community and National Service; and the Center for American Progress to further promote key priority areas for Hartford.