Delegation Reintroduces Bill To Designate Coltsville As National Park
Supporters Say Designation Is 'Overdue'
By JENNA CARLESSO
July 13, 2011
Members of the state's legislative delegation have revived a bill that would designate the Coltsville Historical District in Hartford as a national park.
The measure was introduced in the Senate Tuesday by U.S. Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal. It was introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District.
A similar bill, also receiving support from the entire Connecticut delegation, failed last year in the House. The measure would have established criteria to make Coltsville, the former factory complex developed by 19th-century industrialist Samuel Colt, to become a national park.
Supporters of the legislation say the park would span more than 200 acres and draw tourists to the Mark Twain and Harriett Beecher Stowe houses and the Connecticut River front.
"The investment in Coltsville has the potential to create jobs and strengthen not only our tourism industry, but also the economy by spurring local businesses and attracting industries in downtown Hartford and throughout our state," Larson said in a statement.
"After a decade of hard work and persistence from our delegation's past and present members, I am very pleased to say that we are getting closer to finally providing Connecticut with its first National Historical Park."
Plans call for a mixed-use development at the site, including a firearms museum that supporters say would be a tourist attraction.
"Creating Coltsville National Park will not only fittingly commemorate the Colt legacy, but will be an historic resource as a teaching tool and a tourist destination," Blumenthal said. "National park status is long-deserved and indeed overdue."
A study released in 2009 by the National Park Service determined that Coltsville was a nationally significant site, qualifying it to become a national park. But the study also said there were feasibility issues, in part because the site is caught up in a complex maze of liens and debt.
City officials have said those issues are being addressed.
Hartford-based C G Management Co. took over last year as developer of the Colt Gateway Redevelopment project, continuing work that had started under Los Angeles-based Urban Smart Growth.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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