Construction Halted at Controversial Site for School
February 7-14, 2007
By ANDY HART, The Hartford News Staff Writer
The long battle over the proposed site for the new Pathways to Technology School reached a climax last Thursday. Mayor Eddie Perez and others have pushed for building the school at the corner of Farmington Avenue and Broad Street. But others, including Governor Jodi Rell, have said the site is unsuitable for a school.
On Thursday morning, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced that the proposal to build the school at the site did not constitute an economic development project and therefore did not meet the conditions under which the State had turned the land over to the City. Blumenthal added that he was ruling strictly on the legal question put before him, not on the overall suitability of the site.
After learning of Blumenthal’s ruling, Perez immediately called for a halt to construction at the site, which had started earlier in the week.
But Perez also organized a rally at the Broad-Farmington site just hours after Blumenthal announced his ruling. At the rally, Perez called on Rell and other State officials to reconsider the site, especially since the new school could open in as little as 18 months while finding a new location will significantly delay the project. His sentiments were echoed by several others who spoke at the rally, including Board of Education members Brad Noel and David McDonald, and Pathways to Technology School students, parents and teachers.
Although Perez sounded upbeat at the rally, calling Blumenthal’s decision “just one more hurdle we’ll have to jump over,” it appears as though the school will eventually be built somewhere else.
On Tuesday afternoon, Sarah Barr, Director of Communications for the Mayor, said Perez has asked the Governor to see if there are any state-owned sites she’d like the City to consider as the new site for the Pathways to Technology School. Barr said Perez is also working with City Council, the Hartford Board of Education, and the Pathways’ staff to find other possible sites.
Although Hartford has more than its share of vacant properties, finding a site for the school is not as easy as it appears.
Jack Antonich, Chairman of the Industry Advisory Board for Pathways, has maintained that the Farmington-Broad site for the school may not be perfect but was the best of the dozen or so sites that were considered.
Antonich said the search committee was asked to find not only a location for the school that would be close to Downtown Hartford and the internship opportunities that would provide for Pathways students, but also a site that would not permanently remove a sizable portion of property from the city’s tax rolls. The Farmington-Broad location, which was once the site of Hartford Public High School, had been vacant for many years until a small park was built there in 2004.