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Hartford Extends Life Of Business Improvement District

By BILL LEUKHARDT

June 26, 2009

HARTFORD - The ballots are in and the winners are those folks downtown in the powder-blue shirts.

By a 188-67 vote Thursday, downtown and Asylum Hill property owners approved a five-year extension of the Hartford Business Improvement District, whose members pay a special assessment for a blue-uniformed staff to clean district sidewalks, maintain planters, help pedestrians and act as enhanced security.

The ballots sealed and mailed to the city clerk for Thursday's counting were available only to the 255 property owners within the district. The voting was required by ordinance to extend the district, which was created by referendum in 2006 and scheduled to cease operations in November if not renewed.

Mayor Eddie A. Perez called the vote "an enthusiastic endorsement of the progress that is being made and a strong investment in Hartford's future."

The official tally was 188-67, but only nine "no" votes were actually cast, said Daniel M. Carey, the city clerk. The 58 ballots not returned by Thursday's 4:30 p.m. deadline counted as "no" votes.

The special services district includes businesses Downtown, in Asylum Hill and on part of Farmington Avenue. District landowners assess themselves an additional tax for enhanced security, cleanliness and marketing.

Its staff patrols the district's 45 blocks seven days a week, picking up trash, pulling weeds, removing graffiti, assisting pedestrians and patrolling district streets in bicycles, looking for people in need and calling police if needed.

In 2008, district staff members picked up nearly 60 tons of litter, found and returned driver's licenses, birth certificates, Social Security cards, wallets, telephones, PDAs and assorted keys to their rightful owners, removed hundreds of graffiti tags and provided 851 services to motorists, including opening locked cars, jump-starting vehicles and providing emergency refueling.

More than 1,000 cities nationwide have business improvement districts. Connecticut has such districts in Stamford, Danbury, New Haven, Bridgeport, New Britain, Manchester and Hartford.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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