'Ambassadors' To Go On Duty In City's Downtown, Asylum Hill
May 18, 2007
By STEVEN GOODE, Courant Staff Writer
Beginning Wednesday, people who go to downtown Hartford and the Asylum Hill neighborhood will be seeing blue.
That's the color of the uniforms that will be worn by 15 security and cleaning ambassadors whose job it will be to make the streets cleaner and safer. The ultimate goal is to attract more people to Hartford to shop, play and live.
"Our goals are ambitious but achievable. You're going to see a big difference," said Bert Kaplowitz, chairwoman of the Hartford Business Improvement District's board of directors.
Kaplowitz and other members of the district gathered Thursday on Trumbull Street near the entrance to the Hartford 21 apartment building to introduce the ambassadors and reflect on planning for the initiative, a private-public partnership.
Downtown property owners in 2006 overwhelmingly approved a plan to raise their taxes to fund the business district's efforts, which will have the safety ambassadors working as extra eyes and ears on the street for Hartford police, and the cleaning ambassadors taking care of trash, weeds and graffiti, and painting light poles. The cleanup will also include 200 new flower planters this year and 100 more next year.
The business district's budget for 2007-08 will be $1.2 million, which includes $885,000 in district taxes raised from an additional 1-mill assessment to property owners there, and a $222,500 contribution from the city.
Lawrence R. Gottesdiener, owner of the 36-story Hartford 21 and downtown's largest property owner, said Thursday that the success of the business improvement district will be a key to the revitalization of Hartford.
"Past efforts will all be for naught if the Hartford downtown experience does not improve," Gottesdiener said. "We're committed to making the urban core a cleaner, safer, more dynamic place to be."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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