Efforts To Clean Up City's Image, Save Costs Top Agenda
By JENNA CARLESSO and STEVEN GOODE
October 02, 2010
HARTFORD — — In his first 100 days in office, Mayor Pedro Segarra has set in motion plans to demolish the infamous "Butt Ugly Building" on Main Street, championed a citywide effort to clean up parks and reduced staff by consolidating several offices.
He also restored $2.8 million to the city's "rainy day" fund through the sale of properties and a tax lien, increased the tax collection rate and reduced city health-care costs.
Segarra, marking his first 100 days Friday, also announced his plans for the weeks ahead, which include unveiling the renovated Parker Memorial Community Center today, demolition of 1161 Main St. (the "Butt Ugly Building") at the end of the month and the start of a program that would donate money for college tuition for children who graduate from any public high school in Hartford.
He also announced an expansion of the Police Activities League using full-time police officers.
"This is all about partnerships and getting things done," Segarra said. "We have established a new tone of collaboration with government, businesses and residents."
The renovated Parker Memorial Center on Main Street includes a new game room and reading area, a community room with an attached kitchen and several classrooms. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place there today at 1 p.m.
Though no date has been determined for demolition of the "Butt Ugly Building," workers have begun cleaning out the structure. A mechanical claw will be used to knock down the building, city spokeswoman Sarah Barr said.
Segarra said the city is also gearing up to introduce a campaign called "It's About Us." It will include a poverty study and creation of a fund that would help defray city residents' college tuition if they graduate from any Hartford public high school. It is not yet clear how the program will be funded, Barr said. More details will be revealed next month.
Also on Friday, the mayor announced a new initiative in which the Hartford Police Department will staff its Police Activities League program with two full-time officers and a full-time sergeant.
Next year, the department expects to deploy two more full-time officers to the program. The program was previously staffed with one part-time officer and department volunteers, Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts said.
City officials plan to model the initiative after a successful program in Waterbury, where the department increased participation from 80 youths to more than 3,500 over five years. The new program also will use teachers and seek to further engage the business community. City officials say youth involvement in positive programs will help deter them from gang involvement.
Segarra said he began to realize the importance of youth programs as he recently went around the city speaking to groups.
"I expected that they would complain about taxes, but that wasn't the case," Segarra said. "They said, 'I have children who need things to do.' "
The PAL program will be held in schools and recreation centers, and organizers hope that teachers will volunteer, as they have in Waterbury. Teachers will also serve as the source of referrals to the program, which will focus not only on athletics.
Roberts said he expected to have officers in place and begin to plan programming within two weeks. He said he envisions having a variety of programs, including computer classes, chess leagues and other activities.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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