It's clear that the Pathways to Technology magnet school is not going to be built at the corner of Farmington Avenue and Broad Street. Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez tried hard, too hard, to build it there, but state officials last week said no, and they were right.
If the Pathways school is as good as people say it is, then it's incumbent on city and state officials to get out the maps and find another site for the school's permanent home.
There are alternatives. We will suggest some, with two caveats. The first is that every location comes with challenges. The second is to be mindful of the city's need for property-tax revenue. The city already has almost three dozen school buildings, as well as two major colleges. It is hard not to empathize with Mr. Perez's wish to keep as much land as possible on the tax rolls.
Also, much has been made of the school's need to be close to downtown so students can walk to business internships. Although that would be ideal, students can be driven to internships. Pedestrian proximity shouldn't be a deal-breaker.
Officials might consider:
The Union Station parking lot on Spruce Street. The land is leased to the Greater Hartford Transit District. The area around the station is a natural for transit-oriented development. A large building on the site of the parking lot could accommodate transit and retail uses on the ground floor, parking on several floors and school or office space on the upper floors.
The Barnard-Brown School on Main Street. This handsome old elementary school is underutilized. If retrofitting could bring in the Pathways school, the students would be downtown with no land off the tax rolls.
The Hawthorn site. A seven-acre former factory site on Hawthorn Street between Aetna and Hartford Public High School has several advantages, notably its proximity to Aetna and other Asylum Hill businesses. It was once considered for the Pathways school.
The Ann Street corridor. The area north of I-84 will be revived with the development of a public safety complex in the former board of education building. It can be developed into a stylish Victorian campus that could include one or more magnet schools.
The Burgdorf Health Center campus on Coventry Street. It's out of the way, almost in Bloomfield, but there appears to be enough open land for a school.
The downtown building now occupied by the Sport and Medical Sciences Academy. This school is moving to the South End.
The state-owned land at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Broad Street. This once held a factory and is now being underused as a surface parking lot.
The six-acre site behind the State Office Building on Capitol Avenue. This is another swath of land underachieving as surface parking. A school could be part of a mixed-use, commercial-residential development that would be a boon to downtown Hartford.
Day Hill Road in Windsor. The Pathways school is now in temporary quarters in Windsor. Nothing says it has to be in Hartford. There are scores of businesses on Day Hill Road and a magnet school on the Bloomfield section of the road.
This list is not comprehensive, and is offered only to spur discussion and a new search for a school that can help both Hartford and suburban youngsters get the education they deserve.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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