Public Input Sought for Neighborhood’s Strategic Plan
March 06, 2008
The North Frog Hollow Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) has come up with a preliminary strategic plan for the neighborhood that include 41 projects ranging from the long-range and dramatic, such as relocating the Connecticut State Museum to the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) on Broad Street, to the more ordinary and immediate, such as graffiti removal and the installation of decorative street lamps.
The NRZ is seeking input from Frog Hollow residents, merchants and other stakeholders through a series of open houses and an official public hearing next month (see box for schedule). The NRZ covers the area of Hartford south of Capitol Avenue, west of Washington Street, north of Ward Street and east of I-84.
Columbia Street resident David Corrigan, chairman of the North Frog Hollow NRZ, said that despite the State of Connecticut’s recent announcement it plans to relocate the State Museum to the Church of Christ, Scientist, building on Washington Street, the NRZ is still hoping to move some of the museum’s collection to the JDC on Broad Street. “Failing that,” he said, “we’d like to see the JDC converted into some other type of cultural center.” Corrigan explained that the NRZ feels the JDC center has stymied development near the intersection of Park and Broad Streets, the heart of Frog Hollow. “Businesses don’t want to open near there and people don’t want to live there...The State, of course, will resist [closing down the JDC] but we’ll wear them down,” said Corrigan.
The conversion of the JDC into a cultural attraction of one kind or another is part of one of the major goals of the NRZ’s strategic plan: establishing Frog Hollow as a tourist destination. Other initiatives aimed at this goal include walking tours of the neighborhood, the renovation of the old Lyric Theater (which is adjacent to the JDC) and promoting underground canoe tours of the Park River.
The North Frog Hollow Strategic Plan also contains several recommendations for improving the area around Burns School at the corner of Russ and Putnam Streets.
Strategic Project 8, for instance, is designed to “Improve traffic circulation on Mortson Street, Putnam Heights and Putnam Street.” Corrigan said that residents of the area have reported that it remains a center for drug dealing. This, in turn, has made traffic in the area hazardous, among other problems. Corrigan said that, “based on anecdotal evidence, a lot of anecdotal evidence,” the area is frequently used by drug addicts from outside of Hartford who get off I-84 at Sigourney Street, purchase their drugs on Putnam Street, use them on Putnam Heights or Mortson Street, and then get back on I-84 via Park Terrace.
The Strategic Plan recommends several ways to calm traffic in the area, such as the use of speed tables, allowing parking on both sides of the street and making Putnam Street one way. In addition to making the area safer for residents and students from Burns School, it would also it less attractive to drug dealers and their clients by making quick get-aways more difficult.
The Strategic Plan also calls for the reconfiguration of the intersection of Sigourney and Russ Streets and Park Terrace. Right now, said Corrigan, the intersection is so busy and so wide that it cuts the Bankside Grove section of Pope Park off from the rest of the neighborhood. The plan envisions moving the westernmost block of Russ Street and the entire intersection further south. This would have the added benefit of giving more land to the small playground commonly referred to as “Baby Pope Park,” which is located north of Russ Street and east of Park Terrace.
The flyby from Sigourney Street south to Park Terrace would be eliminated, as would the flyby from Park Terrace to Russ Street.
Another traffic headache tackled by the Strategic Plan is the congestion on Capitol Avenue between Broad Street and Park Terrace.
The plan recommends, among other things, better enforcement of parking regulations and reducing either the westbound or eastbound side of Capitol Avenue to one lane.