Hartford Police To Remain At Former Quirk West Building
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
October 19, 2012
HARTFORD — — After months of lobbying from Mayor Pedro Segarra, the school board has agreed to allow the police department to use the former Quirk Middle School campus indefinitely for training and youth programs.
Police Chief James Rovella and Segarra said they considered Tuesday's vote an investment in the Clay Arsenal neighborhood, one of the city's most violent areas until police established a presence in the Quirk West building.
Quirk West on Williams Street will remain a home for the Hartford Police Academy, Police Activities League and Police Explorers, according to the city.
The Quirk building also includes a pool, gym and auditorium, and Segarra said he hopes the city can partner with the YMCA on Albany Avenue, which does not have an aquatics program.
In 2009, police began using the vacant Quirk West for police academy training under a lease agreement with the school system. The Hartford Shooting Task Force, a group that includes law enforcement officials from several jurisdictions, has also been based there since it was formed last summer.
The agreement expired June 30. The board postponed an initial vote in May on whether to turn over the building to the city.
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has viewed Quirk West as a possible home for special education programs in which students could use the pool for therapy, or as a permanent site for one of the city schools that is outgrowing its leased space, such as Opportunity High on Asylum Avenue.
In addition, Global Communications Academy is scheduled to open in the neighboring Quirk East building next summer for the 2013-14 school year. A massive, $55 million renovation project is under way. (Quirk Middle School ceased operations in 2010.)
The grade K-9 Global Communications, temporarily on Greenfield Street, is looking to offer an International Baccalaureate curriculum and is projected to enroll up to 900 students when more high school grades are added.
Board member Lori Hudson, who opposed the board approval, said her son attends Global and that the school community had long been assured that students would be using the Quirk West pool and gym for activities when the school moved to its new location.
Samariya Smith, the school's parent-teacher organization president, called on the city and board to establish a formal memorandum of understanding so Global students could be guaranteed access.
"We want our kids to be protected from any potentially dangerous activities," Smith added. "They see things every day outside of school. We don't want them to be at school and have to witness certain activities that the police may be training for, whatever it may be."
Segarra, who sits on the school board, said he supports allowing the students to use the athletic facilities. He also singled out the shooting task force for a decline in gun violence, and "we certainly want to have a safe neighborhood."
"I think that working together is oftentimes, in Hartford, a new concept," Segarra said. "And I think people are going to have to learn how to share. People are going to have to learn that if you really want to move our community forward, the different systems are going to have to work together to impact the lives of people.
"The education system doesn't work in isolation from the police department."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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