Over 100 people from the Asylum Hill, Parkville and West End neighborhoods crowded into United Methodist Church on Farmington Avenue Tuesday night to hear about – and comment – on the City of Hartford’s proposed Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD 2020). The POCD will guide city planning for the next 10 years.
Tuesday's meeting was the second in a series of meetings the Planning Division is holding primarily to ensure that the City’s overall plan is as consistent as possible with the strategic plans that have been developed by each neighborhood. The first meeting was held last Thursday at the Metzner Center for residents of the Barry Square, Sheldon?/Charter Oak, South End, South Meadows and Southwest neighborhoods.
Upcoming meetings include tonight, February 11, from 6:30 - 8:30pm at the Pope Park Recreation Center, 30 Pope Park Drive, for residents of the Behind the Rocks, Downtown, Frog Hollow, South Green and South Downtown neighborhoods; and this Tuesday, February 16, from 6:30 - 8:30pm, at Rawson School, 260 Holcomb Street for residents of the Blue Hills, Clay Arsenal, Northeast, North Meadows and Upper Albany neighborhoods. Although the meetings focus on certain neighborhoods, all city residents are welcome to attend.
Although each neighborhood was discussed separately at Tuesday’s meeting, one of the major goals of both the Asylum Hill and West End neighborhoods was reducing the density of housing.
Both Jackie McKinney of the Asylum Hill NRZ and Kathy Sandin of the West End Civic Association said their organizations have both set a goal of reducing the density of housing units in their respective neighborhoods. But Phil Will from the Farmington Asylum Business District said that homeownership should be the focus rather than density. “You can have high-density housing that owner occupied and low-density housing that’s not owner-occupied,” he said.
Roger O’Brien, Hartford Director of Planning, said his department and those pushing for lower density housing “are moving toward each other” in terms of zoning changes.
Darrel Gardner, founder of the West End Community Center, said, “In all this planning, I want you to remember that the majority of the people in this city are poor, there’s high unemployment. I’m wondering if we’re considering this. I hear a lot about trying to get people to move back [to Hartford]. But we need to remember the people who live here now. As you go about planning don’t just think about the people with big homes. Think about the people that need employment, that need decent housing.”
One of the more interesting possible developments was brought up by David Morin of the Parkville Business Association.
Morin said that the relocation of SIMS Metal Management to the North Meadows will open up a large chunk of land for future development. SIMS is the large scrapyard located between Super Stop and Shop and I-84. Morin said many Parkville leaders are hoping to develop the land by extending Bartholomew Avenue, which now ends at Olive Street, all the way through to Flatbush Avenue.