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CITY OF HARTFORD DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS LAUNCHES WEEKLONG TARGETED EFFORT TO REPAIR POTHOLES

(April 29, 2015) The City of Hartford’s Department of Public Works (DPW) has launched a weeklong effort to repair all potholes on City streets. Patching efforts have been ongoing since the winter with crews repairing potholes using temporary cold patches that can pop out after it rains. In the now warmer temperatures, the department has switched to a permanent hot material designed to bond with the existing pavement and designed to last longer. Seven DPW crews have been out this week from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. prioritizing potholes that have been reported to 311 by residents and motorists.

“Public Works employees will be looking at the entire street as they drive it and if they see a pothole, they’re to stop and fix it,” said Interim DPW Director Keith Chapman. “They go street by street until every street in the city has been driven and all the potholes in the street are repaired. It’s a major undertaking when you have this much mileage, but it’s the only way you get it done in a reasonable amount of time.”

In some instances, testing needs to be done to determine the cause of a pothole and, depending on the cause, the street might need to be milled and repaved. Some damaged streets are on the City’s paving list for this coming year and will be addressed with milling and resurfacing. Until then, DPW will repair potholes on those streets with hot material. There are 217 miles of road in Hartford, and DPW resurfaces 15 miles of it each year.

Potholes are caused by a variety of issues, including the ‘freeze-thaw’ effect during the winter when water underground freezes, expands and pushes the pavement up.  Antiquated infrastructure, extreme weather temperatures and heavy traffic are also contributing factors. The goal is to fill all potholes by the end of the week, but efforts will continue until all are repaired. Residents can report existing potholes by calling 311.

 

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ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION NAMES HARTFORD TREE CITY USA

(April 28, 2015) Hartford, CT was named a 2014 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.

Hartford achieved Tree City USA recognition by meetinf the program's four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an arbor Day observance and proclamation.

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.

"Everyone benefits when elected officials, volunteers, and committed citizens in communities like HArtford make smart investments in urban forests," said Matt Harris, chied executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. "Trees bring shade to out homes and beauty to our neighborhoods, along with numerous economic, social and environmental benefits."

Cleaner air, improved storm water management, energy savings, increased property values and commercial activity are among the benefits enjoyed by Tree City USA communities.

More information on the program is available at arborday.org/TreeCityUSA.

About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a million member nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mision to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information is avalable at arborday.org.

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MAYOR SEGARRA: THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DESIGNATES NORTH HARTFORD AS ONE OF SIX NEW URBAN PROMISE ZONES IN THE COUNTRY

(April 28, 2015) Today, during a news conference with U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Deputy Secretary Nani A. Coloretti and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra announced that HUD has awarded a Promise Zone designation to North Hartford – a 3.11 square-mile area encompassing the Clay Arsenal, Northeast and Upper Albany neighborhoods – making Hartford the first City in Connecticut to take part in this competitive initiative created by President Barack Obama. In his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama announced that he would designate 20 Promise Zones nationwide; high poverty communities that would partner with the Administration to create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, reduce violent crime and improve health outcomes. Promise Zones receive preferential consideration for existing federal funding and are assigned federal staff, along with five fulltime AmeriCorps VISTA members, to help navigate federal resources.

The Promise Zone designation would bolster the City’s efforts to tap into existing federal grant programs and enhance initiatives already underway in North Hartford, including over $100 million in façade and infrastructure improvements. Projects include two major school renovations, $47.5 million for Thirman Milner School and $68 million for Martin Luther King Jr., as well as $3 million for the North End Senior Center, $2 million for the Keney Park Ball Fields, $23 million for the Keney Park Golf Course and Clubhouse restoration and $1.5 million for a new police substation on Coventry Street.

“The Promise Zone designation will help us continue efforts to restore North Hartford to the prosperous neighborhood that it once was. The benefits of bringing back businesses to North Hartford, expanding educational and job opportunities and improving residents’ health and wellness will stretch beyond the three neighborhoods in the zone and reach far into the future. This designation has the potential to spur more economic activity, and improve the quality of life for generations,” said Mayor Segarra. “I want to thank Senator Murphy for his leadership in this process, as well as City staff and all of our partners for their hard work and collaboration in developing a strategic plan.”

The designation was achieved through significant support from Senator Murphy and collaboration by City departments and community organizations: Department of Development Services, Office of Central Grants, Hartford Police Department, Hartford Public Schools, Health and Human Services, Families, Children, Youth and Recreation, Metro Hartford Information Services, Hartford Housing Authority, Hartford Public Library, along with United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, Capital Workforce Partners, Community Solutions, Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT), Greater Hartford YMCA, and the Village for Families and Children.

“I can’t overstate how important this designation will be to kids, families, and business owners in North Hartford. New investments – like rehabbing rundown buildings and houses into new office spaces, improving access to healthy food options for kids, and providing career development services for young adults looking to start their careers – will bring life-changing opportunities for people from every corner of North Hartford. This is a major victory for the City of Hartford and one I'm especially proud of,” said Senator Murphy.

As part of the application process, communities were required to submit a comprehensive urban renewal strategy with participation from multiple community stakeholders, including local and regional nonprofits, businesses, neighborhood groups, and residents.  The planning team was led by Thea Montanez, of Montanez Consulting, LLC, on behalf of the City of Hartford and included City departments and nonprofit partners specializing in the areas of health and wellness, education, public safety, housing, workforce development and economic development.

“When the City of Hartford, Senator Murphy's office, United Way and other key stakeholders came together last fall to apply for designation as a Promise Zone, we came together because this was the right thing at the right time for North Hartford. We are so pleased that we have been selected as a Promise Zone designee and look forward to working with our partners in North Hartford to focus on job creation, increased access to quality, affordable housing, expanded educational opportunities and improved public safety, “said Susan B. Dunn, President and CEO of United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.

“North Hartford has a shovel-ready plan to create jobs and expand healthy food options, and we have it because a broad coalition of residents, partners and elected officials came together to anticipate this moment. The Promise Zone designation opens new doors to the resources and support we need to make this exciting plan a reality. I am especially grateful to Governor Malloy, Senator Murphy, Mayor Segarra and so many others who fought to win this opportunity for North Hartford,” said Rosanne Haggerty, President of Community Solutions, which owns the Swift Factory site and is helping to lead its transformation.

“We are proud of this significant accomplishment that we made happen together. Having been born and raised in Hartford has made us who we are and allowed us to succeed. Our community is strong and this Promise Zone designation will help us make it stronger. It’s time to get to work! We would like to thank Mayor Segarra and Senator Murphy for their support and leadership,” Denise Best, Chair of the of the Upper Albany Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ), Darlene Robertson-Childs, Chair of the Northeast NRZ and Bea Powell, Chair of the Clay Arsenal NRZ said in a joint statement.

In order to be eligible for consideration, the rate of overall poverty of residents within the Promise Zone must be over 33 percent and encompass a population of at least 10,000 but no more than 200,000 residents. The North Hartford Promise Zone (NHPZ) rate of poverty is 49.35 percent, compared to the City’s rate of 33.9 percent and the State’s rate of 10 percent, and encompasses a population of 23,930 residents.  

A centerpiece of the NHPZ designation is Community Solution's restoration of Hartford’s historic M. Swift & Sons Factory, which for over 100 years was a leading source of gold leafing for state capitol buildings and historic landmarks across the country. The former factory closed in 2004 and the NHPZ plan prioritizes the revitalization of the factory building as a hub for employment, entrepreneurship and health care services. The vacant land surrounding the former factory has already been repurposed and is now the site of the Five Corners Urban Farm, with plans for a hydroponic rooftop operation. Other priorities outlined in the NHPZ plan include:

  • ·Supporting amendments to zoning codes to facilitate urban agriculture, as well as amendments to the City’s tax codes to provide tax incentives to private property owners who may collaborate with NHPZ nonprofits to develop urban farming operations on their property.
  • ·Improving the emotional and physical development of high risk children and families by increasing access to behavioral health services, healthy food systems and physical activity.
  • ·Acquiring underutilized and blighted commercial and industrial sites and preparing them for reuse.
  • ·Attracting and retaining businesses in the NHPZ commercial corridors by promoting business growth and by developing suitable commercial and mixed-use sites.
  • ·Increasing the number of high school graduates who are college and career ready by expanding student achievement and job readiness activities.
  • ·Reducing crime and improving community safety to advance neighborhood revitalization by expanding outreach services to neighborhood ex-offenders and at-risk youth.
  • ·Connecting to CTfastrak to provide NHPZ residents rapid access to colleges, regional health centers and economic opportunities associated with both.
  • ·Increasing the number of residents living in quality, affordable, sustainable housing by expanding rental and homeownership programs.

Hartford was selected during the second round of the Promise Zone competition from among 123 applications; 97 for urban areas, 19 rural and 7 tribal. Los Angeles, Calif., San Antonio, TX, Philadelphia, Pa., Southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma were selected during the first round last year.

 

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MAYOR SEGARRA PROPOSES MUNICIPAL IDENTIFICATION PROGRAM FOR ALL CITY OF HARTFORD RESIDENTS

(April 23, 2015) Today, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra announced plans for a municipal identification program that would facilitate access to city services, programs and benefits for all Hartford residents, regardless of race, age, gender, arrest or conviction record, citizenship status or sexual orientation. A Hartford photo identification card allows residents to apply for services such as supplemental nutritional programs, access to the City’s health clinic which is free for the uninsured, food vendor licenses, as well as access to ancillary benefits such as opening bank accounts and applying for housing and employment. Hartford will be one of several cities across the nation to implement a municipal identification program including New York City, San Francisco and New Haven, Connecticut.

To obtain the identification card, proof of identity must be established using a U.S. or foreign passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, military identification card, visa or Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, among other documents. The documents used to establish identity would have to be current or expired for no more than five years. Applicants must also establish proof of residency through a utility bill, property lease, pay stub, tax refund, or written verification from a homeless shelter, hospital, clinic or social services agency, among other documents. A proposed charge of $15 for adults and $10 for ages 17 and younger would apply per card. An ordinance establishing the program goes before the Hartford City Council on Monday and is scheduled to go to a public hearing May 18, with the program estimated to begin in late September.

“Certain basic needs, like banking and housing, are not easily accessible to everyone and this program can help change that. We are all better off when our neighbors are able to access basic services,” said Mayor Segarra. “A photo ID can serve as a stepping stone for the homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals who are looking for a new start. It can also help undocumented immigrants become more active members of their communities. A city-issued photo ID is intended to give peace of mind, improve the quality of life for all residents, provide access to opportunity, enhance public safety and instill a sense of unity and pride in our Capital City.”

“It’s an opportunity for Hartford residents to produce photo identification to assist them in job searching. It will affirm residency for individuals who want to participate in the Jobs for Hartford program accessible only to Hartford residents,” said Councilwoman Cynthia R. Jennings.

“A municipal ID card will allow people to participate in the local economy, provide identification when needed, and show that they’re part of the greater community,” said City Councilman Kenneth H. Kennedy, Jr. “Allowing children to participate is also an important component of this program, as having a photo ID can be an effective tool in keeping children safe.”

A Hartford City ID would offer an optional debit function and the cost of the program would be covered primarily through transaction fees. All City of Hartford agencies and officers could accept the Hartford City ID as proof of identity and residency. Per the ordinance, the City would not retain copies of records collected from residents during the application process and will not disclose personal information gathered from residents to any public or private entity or individual, including federal, state or city immigration or law enforcement entities unless required to do so by federal or state law.

Many community leaders representing a wide range of agencies and organizations contributed input while the proposal was being developed and have expressed support for the program.

Stephen Glassman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Connecticut said, “Our friends, families and neighbors here in Hartford often face a number of difficulties securing identification. The inability to provide an ID can hinder their willingness to report crimes and stand up for their own basic rights. This kind of program could provide a big step toward protecting the rights of hard working people who improve our lives in Hartford.”

Peggy Buchanan, President of the Greater Hartford Central Labor Council said, "The labor movement supports municipal IDs because it embraces a basic principal that we hold dear - that communities are stronger when they unite together, supporting those who feel the most vulnerable, the most insecure and the least powerful.  Municipal IDs are a positive expression of a community united together in a way that benefits everyone."

“The implementation of a Municipal ID Card program by the City of Hartford is a huge step towards ensuring that all residents of the city have proper access to all of the resources that the city has to offer.  Hartford is made up of many different people, of varying origins, who contribute to its economic, cultural and political fabric. These people, as long as they meet the requirements of establishing identity and residency, should be able to utilize the card and enjoy the benefits of the library, accessing the bank or to obtain a lease.  If such residents are willing to bear the expense of the ID and there is no cost to the City, then this is a no-brainer.  Hartford is on the right track here,” said Nicone Gordon, President, West Indian Social Club of Hartford, Inc.

“We believe a municipal identification card program will significantly improve access to citywide resources and services, including access to such important institutions as banks and other businesses; thus improving all residents’ access to the mainstream economy,” said Leticia Cotto and Carlos Espinoza, co-chairs of the Commission of Refugee and Immigrant Affairs. “As a city commission responsible for providing a means for refugee and immigrant voices to be heard and understood, as well as advising and informing the City government about the needs and status of the refugee and immigrant communities, we are eager to see many more forward-thinking and progressive social and public policies coming from our Hartford City government.”

"A city as diverse and welcoming as Hartford surely can provide municipal IDs to all residents,” said Juan Hernández Connecticut Director of 32BJ. “The men and women who come here to work for the American dream shouldn't have to face further obstacles to put food on the table for their families. This is the right thing to do.”

“People experiencing homelessness, domestic violence victims, and transgendered individuals often face great challenges accessing community services, housing, and banking systems,” said Matt Morgan, Executive Director of Journey Home, a nonprofit working to end homelessness in Greater Hartford.  “A municipal ID with policies that support these marginalized populations would be a great step in the right direction to ensure their safety, access to housing and employment, and affirmation of their gender identity.”

“All too often people experiencing homelessness have little to no identification when coming to a shelter.  The ongoing issue of not having any identification is an obstacle to finding employment, housing and other services.  The vast majority of the homeless who enter the shelter carry only a scant amount of belongings and any move forward is a positive one,” said Brian Baker, Assistant Director at South Park Inn.

“The State of Connecticut Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (APAAC) greatly appreciates the City of Hartford’s municipal ID card. We have high hopes that this program will enable underserved populations to access crucial services, such as banking, and also provide all city residents with various privileges and benefits. Most importantly, all city residents should be able to acquire proper identification regardless of socioeconomic or political status, national origin, or expression of identity. We look forward to a successful roll-out and continued enhancement of the City of Hartford Municipal ID card,” said Alok Bhatt, of the APAAC.

"We are excited that the City Council will be considering the creation of a Municipal ID Program in the City of Hartford. Municipal IDs unite communities and foster a sense of belonging" said Ana María Rivera Forastieri, Political Director at the Working Families Organization. "For groups that have long been disenfranchised, it sends the message that they are part of a community that recognizes their humanity." 

“Our clients benefit highly through a sense of community involvement and pride. Clients will be able to access much needed services for themselves and their families without fear. Their growth in confidence will flourish and this increased knowledge will foster confidence and newly found empowerment, causing a ripple effect through the communities in which they reside. The more individuals who are identified with their municipal IDs, the easier it will be to combat social concerns and implement more cost effective policies,” Judith Gough, Director of Migration & Refugee Services at Catholic Charities.

“Library staff and governing bodies have a public and professional obligation to ensure that all members of the community have the information they need to communicate and function successfully in a democratic society, which is at the core of our mission,” said Matthew K. Poland, chief executive office of Hartford Public Library. “A City of Hartford Municipal ID Program will foster the confidence of all Hartford residents in their ability to secure the basic resources to build a successful future – equal access to employment opportunities, education, health, financial and legal services. We look forward to welcoming and assisting municipal ID cardholders in search of these free resources and more, and to utilizing this new form of identification to enroll all who wish to become Library customers.”

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