If you were there on Saturday, you had a great time. If not, the park is open dawn to dusk 365 days a year and you can still have a great time. There might not be as many elected officials, marching bands or DJ’s, but it should still be pretty fun.
Also, we wanted to reiterate our thanks to Mark Tamaccio, city architect. This project would have foundered without him.
Here’s a round up of pictures and articles (send us an email or post a link in the comments section if you have any of your own. I saw lots of cameras out, so I’m sure there’s some good pictures and videos out there):
Hartford Courant article & Eye Contact blog post
Pictures Brendan took
Shanta Wiley LTE
Thumbs Up Editorial
So, stop poaching the park!
Anyway, here’s a press release I sent out with all the details. Hope to see you there on Saturday.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hartford’s first skatepark to open this Saturday, Celebration noon to 4 pm.
Please join us this Saturday at noon at Heaven
(New Ross, County Wexford Park) in downtown Hartford, Connecticut at noon for the ribbon cutting ceremony and opening celebration of the City’s first skatepark. After five years of effort by members of skateboard, BMX and hip hop community, the park is reopening again in its entirety with a world-class poured concrete skatepark for Hartfordites and others to enjoy. Of course, the history of the park with respect to skateboarding goes back nearly 20 years; as many know it was featured in several seminal 90s skate videos and established Hartford as the secret skate mecca of the Northeast.
The program will be begin at noon on Saturday with remarks from the Friends of Heaven Skatepark, local elected officials and others involved in the creation of this park. Invited and/or confirmed guests include Mayor Pedro Segarra, the Hartford Court of Common Council, former Councilmember Luis E. Cotto, 860 Custom Skateshop, Underground Coalition, the Tony Hawk Foundation and others. Please stay afterwards for demos, live music, graffiti, breakdancing and to use the park (or spectate). Starting Saturday, the skatepark will be open dawn to dusk everyday.
The Hartford Court of Common Council created the Hartford Skateboard Task Force in 2009 with the purpose of advising the City on the potential location, design and construction of a skatepark. Comprised of representatives of the skating, BMX, business, government and park communities, the Task Force fulfilled those goals and undertook fundraising and grant writing measures to ensure that the park would be built. The design for the park was created with strong community input and a devised process via a series of public meetings. Pulling together a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant through the City of Hartford, a Tony Hawk Foundation Grant (first one in CT, making CT the final state in the country to get one) and individual donors, the park was able to secure funding and grow from a dream into reality. Through a competitive bidding process, the design/build team of Stantec and Who Skates was selected, designing and constructing the skatepark in 2013-2014.
The Friends of Heaven Skatepark is a group born out of the legacy of the Task Force to maintain, promote, program and encourage the free use of the New Ross, County Wexford Park and Heaven Skate Park by providing a space that fosters grassroots arts, recreation and culture for Hartford youth and residents.
More information about the Friends group and the history of the project and the space is available at www.heaveninhartford.org
In the event of inclement weather, the rain date is Sunday with the same schedule.
As you may know, Saturday is also Riverfest, so stay even longer for fireworks.
Thanks to everyone who came out yesterday to help clean up the park! It looks way better and many of the ledges are skateable again. I hope the pizza and cleaner park were adequate recompense for your labor.
Also, please try to exercise some self-control and stop hoping over the fence and skating the park before it opens. You break it, you buy it.
After years of waiting and hoping the park is almost complete. Construction should be completed this week or next. So, two important dates are coming up:
June 29, 11am – 1pm: Park-wide cleanup to prepare for the grand opening. Come join us on Sunday to pick up trash, cut back foliage and sweep up wood chips so that the park is looking shiny for the grand opening ribbon cutting.
July 12, noon (rain date July 13, noon): Skate park grand opening! Now you can finally use the park. We’ll have dignitaries and the not-so-dignified cutting the ribbon and opening the park up. There’ll food, demos, merchandise, music, graffiti, etc. More specifics as the date approaches, but you don’t want to miss this.
IMPORTANT! After the construction is completed, the concrete needs to cure. This is supposed to take around 28 days. Please do not attempt to use the park after construction is done, because it will wreck the surface and we’ll need to fix it before the park is actually open.
Winter came and the park didn’t get finished. No big deal, though, it’s not like anyone would have been able to use a park covered in ice and snow.
I spoke with the contractor this week and looks like mid-May is the target for completion. We’re going to be having a ribbon cutting and plan to have to have music and some cool guests to celebrate the opening. More details on that to follow.
One other thing: resist the urge start using the park until it’s really open. If things get broken or whatever it could delay the opening more. I know some features will be in existence before the park is totally done, but please wait until everything is done. I’m not trying to be heavy handed and the rest of the park that isn’t a construction site is still open.
First off, I want to thank everyone who came out the Hartford Park North public meeting last week. I’ve been to a lot of public meetings and that showing of solidarity and force was incredible. Our park won’t be removed.
Secondly, it looks like builder Who Skates?/Stantec is making good on their promise of a skatepark for Christmas/Boxing Day/Kwanzaa. You can tell these guys are from Maine, because they’re undeterred by a foot of snow. I was there last week and they were also undeterred by an inch of ice.
Construction isn’t quite done with the skatepark, but some design firm is already planning its destruction.
In 2008, the City authorized the Department of Development Services to start exploring redevelopment for “downtown north”. At that the time, there were some very, very rough sketches that didn’t really call for any alterations of Heaven. I was glad. The City Council approved them and five years later, the City engaged an urban design firm from Boston called Utile to come up with plans. They did that and you can see it here. You can also go here and read an article about it. As you know, most of what makes up Downtown North is a bunch gravel parking lots, which creates a definite barrier between the North End and Downtown. I wouldn’t be sad to see those parking lots be put to better use and integration between Downtown and North Hartford.
However, if you dig deeper into their proposal, you see that they’ve decided that Heaven would be better suited as a “town green”. I think they’ve got a lot of gall to decide that one of the only things with vitality in Downtown North needs to be repurposed. Either they did zero investigation into what existing assets are present in Downtown North or they don’t think the people who are using this space now fit into their notion of a redeveloped (*cough*gentrifried*cough*) gateway to north Hartford.
The public’s final chance to weigh in on this proposal is a public hearing tomorrow night, December 11, at the library at 5:30. Care about the skatepark? Make your voice heard.
To those who have been asking about skatepark progress: they had rebar in when I was there last Wednesday. I don’t have a completion day other than that I was told “before Christmas”. If you’re really interested on update to construction progress, go look at it yourself.
I walked through the park during my lunch break today and a fence was up and workers were building forms for foam and concrete. Groundbreakings are sort of ceremonial, but now progress is being made in the park. They said 6 weeks two weeks ago, so that means it’ll be done in month (fingers crossed).
Here’s a 3D mock up of the what will be there then:
Also, check out a round up of the groundbreaking’s coverage, because I’m not very good at telling stories: Real Hartford & WNPR.
We had the groundbreaking this afternoon and it was totally awesome. People showed up, people were thanked, there was a gold deck that we signed. There was energy in the air and a sense that of anticipation and happiness.
I’ve been to a lot of community events in Hartford over the years where there’s a sense that something can’t be done, everything is impossible and good ideas are subsumed by a chorus of intransigent laments. Today, standing in a basketball court that never was, I was blown away by optimism and cooperation.
Photo credit to Laura
One of the main reasons we decided to form a Friends of the park group was to contribute to the upkeep of Heaven. We try to stroll through the park periodically to pick up trash and make sure nothing is messed up. Today while I was walking through the park, I saw something VERY messed up:
Now, the message is pretty meaningless and I think the idiot who painted it was just looking for maximum shock with the most hate speech s/he could fit in 8 sqft, but it is not something we can allow in our community. Since I don’t carry paint around while I’m on a lunch break, I emailed the picture to our Friends group. Dave and Laura went and got some paint and the racist scrawl was removed two hours after I saw it.
Hopefully this sends a message that Heaven is a hate-free place, because it is.