Merchants Find Common Ground Over Line Between City, Town
By DANIEL P. JONES, Courant Staff Writer
October 06, 2007
Merchants and restaurateurs along Park Street in Hartford and Park Road in West Hartford have joined forces to help market what the thoroughfare has to offer on both sides of the border.
As participants in West Hartford's annual Park Road Parade step off this morning, chefs in restaurants on both sides of the town line will be preparing specialties to offer as part of what business leaders are calling a "Taste of Park to Park," which will run through next Saturday.
"We think it will help the whole area and bring more people to the community," said Sergio DeSousa, owner of O'Porto, a Portuguese restaurant on Park Street in Hartford.
The mayors of Hartford and West Hartford met Friday morning at DeSousa's restaurant to talk up the alliance between the Parkville neighborhood in the city and the Park Road neighborhood in West Hartford.
Representatives of the Park Road Business Association invited leaders from the Parkville Business Association to joint meetings about seven years ago and they have met regularly since to deal with quality-of-life issues in the area, such as litter cleanup and policing.
The idea for a marketing alliance across the borders sprang from a meeting between the business associations about a year ago. West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka offered to have heads of his town's departments, such as police and public works, meet regularly with their counterparts from Hartford to look for ways to help strengthen cooperation.
Prospect Avenue may be the legal boundary between Hartford and West Hartford, but the aim of the alliance is to erase in people's minds that "imaginary boundary" and to promote Park Road/Park Street as seamless, said Richard Patrissi, vice president of the Park Road Business Association.
He's the retired owner of Patrissi's Nursery in West Hartford and is often referred to as the unofficial mayor of Park Road.
In a symbolic gesture, Slifka and Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez walked from O'Porto to Prospect Café across the line and back to O'Porto, where they and some of the business leaders and chefs had coffee and pastries.
Perez said he would like to bring the same kind of cross-border alliance to neighborhoods along Farmington Avenue and Albany Avenue.
On Park Street in Parkville, merchants will pay for the purchase of red-brick paving stones for the sidewalks that will look like those already in place along Park Road in West Hartford, said Maria Gabriela Galarza-Block, executive director of the Parkville Business Association.
The city's public works department is expected to install the pavers next spring, Perez said.
The Parkville neighborhood merchants also have chipped in to buy a $1,600 bicycle that will be given to the Hartford police department later this month for a bike patrol in the neighborhood, Galarza-Block said.
"This is just the beginning," she said of the marketing alliance.
For more information about Park Street/Park Road events, visit www.parktopark.org. The Park Road parade starts this morning at 10:30.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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