Acknowledges Possibility That Site May Have To Be Changed
April 25, 2006
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford's school building committee agreed Monday to press ahead with plans to construct a new magnet school on the corner of Broad Street and Farmington Avenue, though the school may have to be built elsewhere if the city can't line up state and federal financing for traffic improvements in the busy corridor.
The committee voted to come up with detailed plans for the 400-student school. If the school eventually is moved to a new site, however, the city will likely end up paying the entire cost of a new design because the state isn't expected to reimburse Hartford for two designs.
Mayor Eddie A. Perez, chairman of the committee and the school board, urged the committee to move ahead with plans to build the school at that site so construction won't be delayed. At the same time, he said he's inclined to find a new site for the school if the road improvement project doesn't come together quickly.
"If we don't take the risk, nobody wins - we won't be doing the road improvements and we won't be building the school there," Perez said.
Last week, urban planner Ken Greenberg, who has extensive experience in Hartford, endorsed the site, but suggested changes designed to improve traffic flow, make the area more pedestrian-friendly and improve its appearance.
Topping the list is a proposal to eliminate the forked intersection where Asylum and Farmington avenues diverge by closing a short stretch of Asylum to the west of the triangle intersection. In that scenario, the closed stretch of Asylum would be converted to green space.
Perez said he will set up a working group to study the road improvements, meet with area businesses that would be affected by changes in traffic patterns, determine a cost for improvements and either line up funding - or determine that the changes Greenberg suggested are too costly.
"Sometimes when you put two projects together you accomplish both of them, whereas individually you might not," committee member Elizabeth Brad Noel said. "I'm elated."
According to Fred Gorove, a traffic engineer working with Greenberg, eliminating that section of Asylum Avenue would allow traffic to move more freely on Farmington Avenue because cars would make fewer turns and lights could be calibrated to give more time to pedestrians and to drivers who are going straight ahead.
Greenberg also proposed broadening the sidewalks from Broad Street to Bushnell Park in order to link the green spaces together.
Some members of the Farmington Avenue Alliance asked Gorove to study the possibility of closing Farmington Avenue, rather than Asylum, in order to create green space near the school for students to enjoy since the site is too small for ball fields.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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