Once again, a private developer, Albert Gary, wants to buy part of what is known as Brackett Park in Hartford's North End and build housing on it. He should leave open space open.
Luckily, prior attempts to grab the 7.4 acres of precious open space in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods failed. A group headed by Mr. Gary also proposed, earlier this year, to turn a large part of North Hartford's signature Keney Park into an equestrian center. That effort failed.
So should this latest attack on Brackett Park. Mayor Eddie A. Perez is wrong to support the development plan.
City Councilman Luis Cotto, chairman of the council's parks committee, has it right: "This is a park with swings, a slide, a gazebo, basketball. Not only is it a park that's convenient to people there, but it's a much-needed park in an area that does not have [enough open space]."
Mr. Gary says he would be providing "much-needed homeownership." But the city needs play space as much as it needs homeownership. The neighborhood has already lost a playground to another housing project on the former St. Michael's School property.
Also, opportunities to build owner-occupied housing or rental housing exist in abundance, on vacant lots or where ramshackle buildings now stand. Developers don't have to decimate parkland to provide homeownership. Parks, in fact, enhance property values for everyone.
The parcel labeled "Brackett Park" on city maps (where it is shown in park-like green) was once the site of a school, demolished in 1971. The city has maintained playground equipment there for years. But Brackett was never officially designated a park and its zoning was never changed to make certain it would remain a park.
Hartford's city council should correct that oversight and make Brackett an official city park so that neighborhood residents can continue to enjoy what has been a park to them for nearly 40 years.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at