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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Join us for a groundbreaking ceremony for Hartford’s new skatepark.
At long last, construction is beginning on Hartford’s new and official skatepark at New Ross, County Wexford Park downtown (aka Heaven). Come join us for a brief groundbreaking ceremony, replete with a golden skateboard, Monday, November 4, 2013 at 4pm at Heaven.
For those of us involved with this project, this is the columniation of five years of meetings, planning, lobbying, grant writing, designing, compromising, fretting and hoping. It is with great relief that concrete will finally be poured.
So, please stop by Monday afternoon and bear witness to Heaven skatepark becoming a reality and allow us to say thank to all those involved over the past five years.
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. 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
Some sectors have been complaining about the art at the park lately. We think it’s awesome that there’s a place to display quality graffiti in a safe and accessible place.
Looks like the Courant agrees with us. Check out this photo essay.
Check on this editorial the Courant wrote about Heaven in today’s paper.