September 8, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
Those wanting to walk along the Connecticut River from the
Bulkeley Bridge to the boathouse at Riverside Park in Hartford
soon will have a chance to do so, as work has begun on the
$4.9 million project to connect the two, officials said Wednesday.
The project is the latest phase of construction by Riverfront
Recapture Inc., a nonprofit organization working on a park system
on the Hartford and East Hartford sides of the river.
"This is the link that will reconnect downtown Hartford
with Riverside Park," said Joseph R. Marfuggi, president
and CEO of Riverfront Recapture. He said the park and its connection
to the bridge will be tailored to meet the needs of those with
disabilities as well as the needs of the city's emergency vehicles. "We
are creating a park system that is fully accessible to everybody," Marfuggi
Construction on the latest phase began over the past two weeks,
bringing a 12-foot-wide walkway to an area where the dike that
protects the city meets the banks of the Connecticut River, Marfuggi
said. The dike is also being reinforced in the process, Marfuggi
The project includes park improvements, from new trees to light
poles and benches, he said. Of the $4.9 million, $3.9 million
is for construction. The remaining $1 million was for design
and review. The project is funded with a combination of state
and federal money.
"This project would never have
gotten off the ground if people had said, 'We need to do this
all at once,' " Marfuggi
said of Riverfront Recapture - which includes completed projects
at Charter Oak Landing, Riverfront Plaza, Riverside Park and
Great River Park in East Hartford. "It needed to happen
in an incremental progress over a long period of time. That's
what's happening, and that's what's paying off."
Riverside Park originally
was intended as an outdoor living room for the tenement residents
of late 19th-century Hartford, Marfuggi said. "But that connection was lost as the dikes
were built and the highway was built," he said. "What
we're trying to do is reconnect parts of the city with the river."
In 2003, Riverwalk Downtown - the space between the Bulkeley
Bridge and the Founders Bridge - was completed, Marfuggi said.
The current work on the section of the park between the Bulkeley
Bridge and Riverside Park could be done by this time next year,
Kenneth R. Kahn, executive
director of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, called the project
and its progress "a glorious
opportunity for hikers, bikers, picnickers, fishermen, boaters,
event-goers, festival-goers, sightseers, and people who love
Kahn said his council, in cooperation with Riverfront Recapture
and Lincoln Financial Group, is working on a sculpture walk that
would have roughly 15 pieces distributed throughout the park
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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