About 20 years ago, Hartford (using mainly federal funds) built a cover over I-84 right in the heart of the city. The idea was to tie in the Northend to downtown, encourage development on the 12B Redevelopment parcel (west of the Ramada Hotel) and provide a park for recreation for residents and visitors.
Well, just about all the hopes for this stretch of property have fallen flat. In matter of fact, the whole situation is very disappointing for this reporter. You see, working through John O'Connell, who was then on City Council, the city named that area "Wexford Park" in honor of the 20 year relationship with New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland. That, we are proud to say, was our idea (O'Connell and your reporter).
A monument to the "Pikeman" of New Ross was built and much was made of the whole idea.
Sad to say, the city cannot handle the work load of all our parkland and the park that gets the shortest shrift is Wexford Park. When visitors from Ireland come for our St. Patrick's Day parade - usually staying in the Marriott Residence Inn just steps from the monument - organizers usually change the subject when asked about the park. Why? Because it usually is a disgrace.
Today, however, 40 volunteers from The Hartford, supervised by Knox Parks (see photo on page ?) transformed the planting areas. Now, for the rest of the story. Graffiti is everywhere, all over the park. Tags and "Art" are smeared on everything. Reports are that the skateboard community thinks it is theirs to do whatever they wish. The plans for a skateboard park seem to have the same fate as all the original ideas for the area. With Councilman Cotto now in Boston, who is in charge of the skateboard plan?
What really is needed is a sensible plan to turn the whole park into a performance area with plantings that fit (the irrigation system is now ruined) and need little care. All the "art" mess should go and skateboarders should find another place to wreck. If 12B is to be developed, Wexford Park could be an asset, not a disgrace.