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A Vision for a Vibrant Northeast Hartford Seana Cullinan and Rachel Jackson The Conway School March 2012


A Vision For a Vibrant Northeast Hartford

Prepared for Community Solutions Seana Cullinan and Rachel Jackson The Conway School March 2012


Acknowledgements Thank you to Rosanne Haggerty, Sweta Patel, Nadia Lugo, Nadine Maleh, Sharon Gowen, Catherine Craig, Anna Marie Creegan and everyone at Community Solutions for all of your help and for allowing us the opportunity to be part of such an exciting project. We are grateful for the contributions of the many professionals, organizations and citizens of Hartford who provided their time and expertise. Without their effort, completion of the project would not have been possible. Gabriel Engeland, City of Hartford Jonas Maciunas, City of Hartford Jack Hale, City of Hartford Chris Doucot, Hartford Catholic Worker James Kelly, Ebony Horse Women Junior Mounted Patrol Peter Morse, Riverfront Recapture. Mary Rickel-Pelletier, Park Watershed, Inc. A sincere thank you to Rex Fowler of the Hartford Community Loan Fund for sharing his intimate knowledge of the Northeast Neighborhood. Thank you to Henry Hester and Jeffrey Stewart of Friends of Keney Park for sharing their stories and photographs of Keney Park. Thank you to Nina Antonetti and her students at Smith College for their research on Keney Park and the Northeast Neighborhood. Thanks to Jonathan Fogelson and Michael Singer of Michael Singer Studio for their input, encouragement, and design expertise. Thanks to all of the people who participated in the November 2011 Swift design workshop at the Conway School.

We would also like to express our gratitude and appreciation to our fellow students, and the faculty and staff of the Conway School.

Š 2012 The Conway School


Table of Contents Executive Summary

• Transforming Vacant Lots................................................................36 • Proposed Pocket Park......................................................................39

Introduction • Community Solutions and Northeast Hartford...................1 • The Northeast Neighborhood.......................................................2 • Keney Park..................................................................................................4

Focus Area..................................................... 7 East-West Corridor................................................. 8 • Westland Street and Keney Park................................................10 • Commercial Businesses....................................................................11 • Churches and Religious Groups..................................................13 • Vacant Lots and Boarded Buildings...........................................13 • Housing Changes Along Westland Street..............................14

North-South Corridor..........................................15 • Waverly Ball Fields..............................................................................16 • Simpson-Waverly School................................................................17 • Park Entrances.......................................................................................18 • Gully Brook.............................................................................................19 • Keney Park Pond House..................................................................20 • Southeastern Corner........................................................................21

Ideabook...................................................... 23 Ideabook: Places • Tools and Strategies for Creating a Safe, Vibrant Neighborhood.......................................................................................24 • Designing for Safety............................................................................25 • Designing Safe Woodlands in Keney Park.............................26 • Applying Safe Design Principles: The Pedestrian Entrance on Edgewood Street.........................................................................27 • Improving Walkability.........................................................................28 • Safe & Inviting Streets........................................................................29 • Hartford Initiatives: The iQuilt Plan............................................31 • A Safe Greenway Along the Park’s Edge...............................32 • Activating the Front of the Swift Site.......................................34

Ideabook: Programs • Engaging the Community Through Art...................................40 • Improving Public Transportation.................................................42 • Job Training .............................................................................................43 • Hartford Initiatives: Green Ribbon Task Force....................44 • Environmental School Programs.................................................45 • Reviving a Neighborhood Through Environmental Education in the Park, Case Study: Urban Ecology Center........................................................................................................46 • Creating Safe Parks, Case Study: Riverfront Rangers......47 • Combatting Illegal Dumping..........................................................48

Appendix • Process.......................................................................................................50 • References...............................................................................................52


Executive Summary

While the Northeast Neighborhood faces many challenges, including a poverty rate of 38 percent, a 17.4 percent unemployment rate, and the highest crime rates in the city, there are also many positive factors such as churches, schools, and active organizations that enhance residents’ quality of life. Making up 40 percent of the neighborhood is the historic Keney Park, a tremendous asset to the neighborhood and the city. Westland Street is a major east-west street that runs through the center of the Northeast Neighborhood. This street connects three of the Northeast’s major assets: Keney Park, the Swift Factory redevelopment, and the new Parker Memorial Community Center. Many of the conditions found elsewhere in the neighborhood are found here, including areas of high-crime, older multiunit homes, newly built duplexes, single-family residences, vacant lots, boarded buildings, churches, and corner stores. The eastern edge of the mostly wooded Keney Park forms a verdant western boundary for the Northeast Neighborhood. In the park are well-used sports fields,

playgrounds, and the Keney Park Pond Area. The Simpson-Waverly School, bordering the edge of the park, is one of ten schools within a half-mile radius of the park. Some of the challenges facing the park include illegal dumping, uninviting and sometimes unmarked pedestrian entrances, and the perception that the park is dangerous. A focal area of the report is the active Westland Street Corridor and the interface of the neighborhood with the eastern edge of Keney Park. Because these areas contain unique assets and are also representative of many challenges within the neighborhood, the report focuses on design solutions that are appropriate for this area and the entire neighborhood. A major part of this report is a collection of site designs and programmatic explorations of ways to help make the Northeast Neighborhood a vibrant, safe, and healthy place in which to live and visit. This ideabook also includes several case studies from communities that have successfully overcome similar challenges. Concepts presented in the ideabook include designing for safety and improving walkability in the neighborhood. Design options are explored for envisioning the eastern edge of Keney Park as a greenway, activating the front of the Swift site as a community space, and transforming vacant lots into places for food cultivation or pocket parks. Design ideas for the arts, transportation, education, and job training are explored, with examples presented from other communities. These ideas present a range of design options that can be used as a starting point in a larger conversation with the residents of Northeast Hartford about how they envision the future of their neighborhood. Right: Stairwell inside the Swift Factory.

Community Solutions has begun work in the Northeast Neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut, a community facing multiple economic and social challenges. The centerpiece of Community Solutions’ work there will be the redevelopment of the historic M. Swift & Sons Goldleaf Factory complex. The green-renovated factory will house space for business enterprises, food production, training programs, and community activities. Also on site will be a two-acre community-run farm and affordable housing for seniors and teachers working in the community. The Swift factory redevelopment will create fifty new jobs and serve as a catalyst for economic development throughout the neighborhood.


Introduction

P

hysical landscape changes, along with social and programmatic work, have the potential to enrich the economic and social vitality of a neighborhood. This report examines potential connections between the Swift Factory, neighboring Keney Park, and the Northeast Neighborhood of Hartford and presents a variety of design interventions for one part of the neighborhood that could enhance connectivity, walkability, and safety in the neighborhood. This focus area has important resources and design strategies can be concentrated here to maximize their impact.

Introduction

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

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Š 2011 Michael Vaile Garner

The Swift Factory looking northeast from Love Lane.


Community Solutions and Northeast Hartford The M. Swift & Sons Factory

The nationally renowned organization Community Solutions has begun work in the Northeast Neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut, a community facing multiple economic and social challenges. A key component of its work in the neighborhood will be the redevelopment of the historic M. Swift & Sons Gold Leaf Factory complex. With its partner, Northeast Neighborhood Partners Inc., Community Solutions intends to transform the complex into a village center with space for business enterprises, food production, training programs, and community activities.

wrap-around services to local residents living with multiple health conditions who frequently use the Emergency Room and are disconnected from primary care. • Help those residents learn to manage their health, stabilize their housing, and build a plan for the future. • Facilitate city infrastructure improvements.

Central components of the planned redevelopment include three major elements:

Community Solutions is a national not-forprofit organization that helps communities end homelessness by transforming their response to vulnerable people so that all are housed, safe, and healthy – saving not only lives, but money.

• The green-renovated factory will house production space for light industry and artisans, creating fifty new jobs. • Two historic homes will provide six units of affordable housing for seniors and teachers working in the community. • The two-acre community-run farm will provide jobs and training for local youth while producing fresh food for the community. The Swift Factory redevelopment will serve as a catalyst for economic development throughout the neighborhood. Neighborhood Health Initiative

In tandem with their work at the Swift Factory, Community Solutions will target the neighborhood’s health and social challenges through its neighborhood health initiative, Healthy Northeast. As a communitywide development initiative to help make Northeast Hartford a safer, healthier, and more prosperous community, Community Solutions will work to enhance and integrate existing community resources.

Community Solutions: Tools for Transformation

Working with communities, Community Solutions surfaces ideas that use current resources more efficiently. These ideas become the tools they build and distribute to connect vulnerable people to housing and community supports. Community Solutions’ core principles include: • Focus on the most vulnerable • Make connections • Tools for transformation • Smarter spending • On the ground, metrics driven • Urgency • Transforming communities

With a growing network of government, health care, education, housing, and social service partners, Community Solutions intends to intervene on multiple levels to: • Develop a community organizing team to enlist all neighborhood residents in prioritizing neighborhood improvement efforts. • Utilizing community-based care coordination, offer

Machinery left behind at the M. Swift & Sons Gold Leaf Factory.

Introduction

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

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The Northeast Neighborhood

“ …for most, it was a place where doors were never locked, where the chief form of transportation was on foot, where going to the neighborhood movie theater and to Keney Park were the favored forms of recreation, where adults watched out for each other’s children, and where children had the freedom to behave like children.” (Walden, Editor’s Note) Walden explains that the social fabric of the neighborhood started to change as middle class families began migrating to the suburbs in the 1950s. By 1970, only a few of the early Jewish residents remained. The economic climate also began to change at that time, as large-scale industrial manufacturing left the city. As the jobs disappeared, the population began to decline. Between 1980 and 2000, the population in the neighborhood had decreased by 27 percent to 10,137 (One City, One Plan 2010). Today, 86 percent of residents are black non-Hispanic, 12 percent are Hispanic and 2 percent are white non- Hispanic (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).

Northeast Hartford Today With a poverty rate of 38 percent, a 17.4 percent unemployment rate, and the highest crime rates in the city (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000), the neighborhood cur-

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Introduction

The skyline of downtown Hartford.

Northeast Neighborhood

Downtown Hartford

Google Earth

During the first half of the twentieth century, the Northeast Neighborhood of Hartford (or the North End as many residents call it) was home to a vibrant working class. According to Joan Walden in her book Remembering the Old Neighborhood, a large percentage of these early twentieth-century residents were Jewish, but the neighborhood was home to an eclectic mix of immigrants from Europe, Canada, and the West Indies (West Indian Social Club). As industrialization began to expand in Hartford after World War II, African Americans from the southern states also settled in the neighborhood. Many who grew up in the North End in the early decades of the twentieth century refer to the neighborhood as having been a tight and caring community where people from many different backgrounds lived in harmony with one another.

Julius Livre

The Neighborhood’s History

The Northeast Neighborhood is located a little less than one mile north of downtown Hartford.

rently faces tremendous economic and social challenges. These conditions combined with limited social services and disproportionate rates of chronic illness leave residents of the neighborhood particularly vulnerable to becoming homeless. While the community faces many challenges, there are also many positive factors that enhance the quality of life there. Active churches, found on almost every block, are central to community life. Multiple elementary schools and school-choice programs offer residents a range of educational options within walking distance. Vibrant organizations such as the Friends of Keney Park, Ebony Horsewomen, and the West Indian Social Club provide outlets for arts, culture, and recreation. Anchoring the northwestern section of the neighborhood is the historic Keney Park, which is included in the Northeast Neighborhood revitalization zone (NRZ) and makes up 40 percent of that zone’s area.


Opportunities and Assets in the Northeast Neighborhood

Challenges in the Northeast Neighborhood

• Increasing home ownership through public and private groups, such as Habitat for Humanity and Hartford Housing Authority

According to Hartford Info & the 2000 U.S. Census:

• Safe, secure elderly housing • Brand-new Parker Memorial Community Center and Recreation Facility

• Highest crime rate in the city • Highest rates of obesity, heart disease and infant and neonatal mortality in Hartford • Lowest high school graduation rate in the state

• Historic Keney Park

• Estimated median household income: $20,440

• 23 churches

• Poverty rate: 37%

• Multiple elementary schools

• Unemployment rate among people aged 16-65: 17.4%

• Planned Swift Factory redevelopment

• College graduates: 5.3%

• Ebony Horsewomen

In Addition:

• West Indian Social Club • The North End Senior Center • Old North Cemetery • And many more

• Households without a vehicle: 43% (Nielsen Claritas) • Lack of a Community Development Corporation (CDC) actively engaged in rehabilitation of existing housing stock (Fowler 2012) • Virtually no job opportunities within the neighborhood • Significant number of boarded buildings and empty lots • Low owner-occupancy • No full-size supermarket • Only 2 laundromats

“I was born in 1938 and grew up on Garden Street near Westland Street... My neighborhood was multi-racial and we all got along well with one another with little or no trouble. My family, along with one other, was the only African-American family on Garden Street for quite a long time, but that didn’t matter to our neighbors. I truly enjoyed growing up in my neighborhood... Lasoff ’s Bakery is also a very fond memory. They had the best bakery products including rye bread and Kaiser rolls. The corner of Garden and Westland Streets always smelled like fresh-made bread.” Frances Kennedy Mosby (Walden 2009)

Introduction

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Keney Keney Park Park

Keney Park

West Open

Bushland

Ten Mile Wood East Open

Courtesy of the National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

Google Earth

Northeast Northeast Hartford Hartford

General Plan for Keney Park, designed by Charles Eliot and the Olmsted Brothers Firm.

Keney Park makes up the northern and western borders of the neighborhood. The 693-acre park was designed in 1896 by Charles Eliot and the Olmsted Brothers Firm. It is one of the largest municipal open spaces in New England and is located a mere tenth of a mile from the Swift factory. According to John Alexopoulos in The Nineteenth Century Parks of Hartford, the park was designed in an informal and naturalistic style, and was meant to replicate a series of typical regional landscapes with meadows and forests that were connected by a series of meandering carriage drives over eight miles in length. In an effort to create a rustic feel, the design relied heavily on the use of native plants and purposely excluded such features as straight lines, manicured lawns, statues, monuments, and formal plantings. Developing the park required a tremendous amount of manpower and materials. Hundreds of workers were needed to grade a half-million yards of soil and to install over a million plants. The result is a terrain that resembles a natural New England landscape but is almost entirely man-made. The original parklands were arranged into four distinct areas. The southern portion consisted of a 167-acre meadow called West Open. The two middle sections of the park featured the 69-acre Bushland Division and 181 acres of forested land in the Ten Mile Woods. The northern-most portion of the park, called the East Open, consisted of 105 acres of forest and open pastureland (Alexopoulos 1983). 4

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Introduction

Aside from the expansion of forested areas, the original design of the park has remained largely unaltered since its creation. West Open is still an inviting, expansive meadow with sweeping views to the south, providing plenty of space for recreation, gatherings, and festivities such as Family Fun Day. The open pasturelands in the East Open are now home to Keney Park Golf Course and the Cricket Fields, which are active and popular areas frequented by many visitors throughout the warmer months. Maintenance in the park has become restricted by limited city budgets. Many of the mature trees are in need of maintenance and/or replacement. Illegal dumping occurs in several locations and is left to accumulate due to a shrinking maintenance staff (Green Ribbon Task Force 2011). Large portions of the northern areas of the park are densely forested with thick understory vegetation. Sections of the carriage trails in these areas have not been maintained for many years and visitors rarely travel to the interior parts of the Bushland Division or Ten Mile Woods. Because these areas are less accessible to people, nature has been left relatively undisturbed for many years. In the midst of a dense urban setting, Keney Park is an extraordinary oasis that provides habitat and supports biodiversity.


The Rain of Parks and biological Diversity

has been struggling with for the past sixty years. More than ever, it is important to find innovative and creative strategies for keeping these parks safe, beautiful and functional.

A 1900 city map of Hartford’s park system.

Courtesy of the National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

Wildlife in Keney

The Rain of Parks Keney Park is one of five parcels that were willed to or purchased by the city to create a ring of parks around Hartford between 1894 and 1895. The unprecedented expansion of parklands within such a short period of time became known as the “rain of parks.” Olmsted’s concept for Hartford was to provide ample public parks in anticipation of the problems associated with scattered and unplanned development. Designed as informal, curvilinear country parks, they were meant to give residents the sense of being in the countryside (Alexopoulos 1983). Such a significant amount of park acreage sets Hartford apart from many other American cities of comparable size. However, maintaining and caring for such a large number of parks is a challenge that the city

A 2009 one-day bioblitz in Keney Park, Matianuck State Park and the Goodwin College campus in East Hartford found 1,715 plant and animal species in 24 hours. Evidence of several state-listed species found in Keney Park included red fox, big brown bat, spotted turtle, Eastern box turtle, and wood turtle.

What is a Bioblitz? A bioblitz is an intense period of biological surveying where scientists and volunteers try to identify as many species as possible during a short time frame. They are often held in urban parks or nature reserves near cities to encourage more public participation.

Scientists who participated in the bioblitz identified two biotic communities near the border of Keney Park and Matianuck State Park that are ecologically significant. Two open sandy areas which are surrounded by little bluestem grasslands and a small stand of pitch pine are home to a large population of big sand tiger beetles, a beetle listed by the state as threatened. This beetle population is in the hundreds, making it one of the largest in the state. Tiger beetles have highly particular habitat needs. They are found in open, disturbed sandy areas along rivers and glacial sand deposits. They are threatened by disturbances such as flooding and human recreational use. Increased vegetative cover also threatens their habitat. The bioblitz scientists recommend protecting these rare beetle habitats in Keney Park and Matianuck State Park. Keney Park is large enough to accommodate the habitat needs of these and other species while also serving as a sanctuary for people and a living classroom for environmental programs such as Project WILD (refer to page 45). Establishing certain areas as habitat to be left undisturbed could help to shape a more efficient maintenance program in which resources are focused mainly on areas that serve the needs of humans.

Introduction

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

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Right: Interior of the Swift Factory.

A sculpture of a young family adorns a pedestal next to Keney Park Pond.

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Introduction


Focus Area

W

ith connectivity and walkability in mind, a focus area has been defined. While containing areas representative of many of the challenges and opportunities found throughout the neighborhood, the area is unique for containing three of the area’s major assets, Keney Park, the Swift Factory site, and the brand-new Parker Memorial Community Center. The focus area will capitalize on these assets by concentrating design solutions and resources in a defined area which can serve as a demonstration and catalyst for positive change throughout the neighborhood. The east-west section of the focus area is a corridor along Westland Street. A second north-south section includes the interface of the neighborhood with the eastern edge of Keney Park, providing Focus Area an opportunity to explore enhanced connectivity between the neighborhood and park.

Introduction

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

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Focus Area: East-West Corridor

Keney Park Northeast Hartford

East-West Corridor A

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Westland Street Facing North

Swift Factory Site

Keney Park A

Vine Street

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Gully Brook

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Eastford Street

Focus Area

Garden Love Street Lane

Martin Street


Westland Street has significant Assets

Westland Street is a major east-west road that runs through the center of the Northeast Neighborhood. The areas along Westland Street and the streets to the north share many conditions with the greater neighborhood, including areas of high-crime, older multi-unit homes, newly built duplexes, single-family residences, vacant lots, boarded buildings, churches, and corner stores. Design solutions developed for the focus area could be applied to other neighborhood locations with similar challenges.

The newly re-built Parker Memorial Community Center.

Westland Street connects three of the Northeast’s major assets: Keney Park, the Swift Factory redevelopment, and the brand new Parker Memorial Community Center. The renovated PMCC opened in October 2010 and includes a gymnasium, pool, fitness center, and computer labs and is a site for free summer meals for eligible children. The center offers positive activities for young people and has potential to bring community members together. Located at the far east of the neighborhood and with no east-west buses nearby, residents in the western half of the neighborhood may find the PMCC difficult to reach.

B

Westl an

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MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

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Parker Memorial Community Center

B

Barbour Street

Clark Street

Entrance to Parker Memorial Community Center Focus Area

Main Street

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

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Westland Street & Keney Park

Between Vine Street and the houses on Eastford, the far western end of Westland Street borders Keney Park. The Gully Brook flows south through the park, traveling underground at Westland Street and entering the combined sewer overflow system.

C

Mary Rickel-Pelletier

Currently the brook backs up during large rainfalls and can overflow at Love Lane within the park. The flooding blocks traffic on Love Lane and restricts access to a small portion of the park. The city and the MDC are currently exploring options to address the flooding (Hale 2012). Site of Flooding on Love Lane

Garbage washes down Gully Brook, collecting at Westland Street.

Upstream, hikers in Keney Park enjoy Gully Brook’s natural beauty.

Gully Brook

Love Lane

Keney Park

D

Eastford Street

Westland Street

MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

Vine Street

Auburn Street Looking south, Gully Brook enters an underground pipe at Westland Street.

C

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Mary Rickel-Pelletier

Keney Park

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Swift Factory Site

Parker Memorial Community Center

Westland Street Facing North

Vine Street

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Gully Brook

Eastford Street

Focus Area

Garden Street Love Lane

Martin Street

Barbour Street

Clark Street

Entrance to Parker Memorial Main Street Community Center


Commercial businesses

The southern edge of the Swift Factory sits at the Five-Corners intersection of Love Lane, Westland and Garden Streets. Once a vibrant commercial intersection, the area is now considered unsafe. Two corner stores, an empty storefront, and a vacant lot occupy the remaining four corners. The only other businesses on Westland Street include two barbershops and a towing service.

“That intersection of Love Lane, Garden & Westland Street had all the conveniences, from a barber shop, Lasoff ’s Bakery, a cleaners, and First National Grocery (which later became a Stop & Shop), to a shoe repair, kosher meat market, and Shvetz Home Circle Grocery.” Seymour S. Lappen, Northeast Neighborhood resident 1930s

G Empty storefront next to the Swift Factory.

Baez Five-Corners Mini Mart.

Swift Factory

Vacant Lot H

Building Torn Down G Keney Park

Westlan d

Street MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

5-Corners Intersection

Sonia’s Market

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Sonia’s Market.

Swift Factory Site

Parker Memorial Community Center

Westland Street Facing North

Vine Street

Gully Brook

Eastford Street

Garden Street Love Lane

Martin Street

Barbour Street

Clark Street

Driveway to Parker Memorial Main Street Community Center

Focus Area

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Commercial businesses

Charl

otte S treet

Just north of Westland on Barbour is the small Unity Plaza shopping complex, with a C-Town supermarket, a post office, a laundromat, a barbershop, a local library branch, an ATM, and a storefront church. Other than Unity Plaza and a few scattered corner stores, most of the commercial activity in the neighborhood is on Main Street.

The C-Town Supermarket is the largest food market in the Northeast Neighborhood.

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

With only two laundromats in a neighborhood of over 10,000 people and numerous housing units without washing machines, many residents must go to great lengths to clean their clothes. Most of the bus lines only run north-south, and many residents do not feel safe walking far distances in the neighborhood. Residents on the west side of the neighborhood must leave the Northeast Neighborhood to do their laundry.

Stores and the post office at Unity Plaza.

Focus Area

Pharmacies are also absent from the neighborhood, forcing residents to travel far to obtain medicine. The nearest two are located about a mile away from the Swift site. One pharmacy is found in the Department of Health and Human Services Building at 131 Coventry Street on the northwest side of Keney Park and the second is located south of the neighborhood at Community Health Services at 500 Albany Avenue.

Community Health Services provides health care to many Northeast residents.

MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

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Unity Plaza Shopping Center

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Swift Factory

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New Habitat for Humanity Homes


Churches And Religious Groups

Base Map Courtesy of the City of Hartford

Westland Street contains a mix of residences, commercial businesses and religious institutions. With twenty-three active churches in the neighborhood and many others nearby, religious organizations and faithbased groups play a prominent role in neighborhood life. Churches may have Sunday services, events or activities four or five nights of the week (Lugo 2012). Churches can function as social centers, charitable organizations, and building blocks of social capital.

Churches in Northeast Hartford Churches

Church

Northeast Neighborhood Boundary

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Barbour Street

J

Westland Street Vacant Lots & Boarded Buildings

Vacant lots and boarded buildings can be found along Westland Street and throughout the Northeast Neighborhood. Blight has negative social, psychological, and economic effects on neighborhoods. The City of Hartford is working with property owners to clean up blighted properties. In many cities, governments and community organizations are developing innovative solutions to turn vacant lots and boarded buildings into neighborhood assets. Baltimore’s

Clark Street

Vacant Lots

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MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

Martin Street

Power In Dirt initiative enables residents and community organizations to have legal access to city-owned lots for gardening and greening purposes. Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Green program partners with local residents, community groups, government, and businesses to reclaim abandoned land and develop and preserve community green space. I

Boarded building at 128 Westland Street. Keney Park

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Swift Factory Site

Parker Memorial Community Center

Westland Street Facing North

Vine Street

Gully Brook

Eastford Street

Garden Street Love Lane

Focus Area

Martin Street

Barbour Street

Clark Street

Entrance to Parker Memorial Main Street Community Center

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

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Housing Changes along Westland Street

Housing patterns are shifting as new affordable homes are constructed throughout the Northeast Neighborhood. Many of these projects are owner-occupied duplexes and single-family homes. Increased home ownership may give residents a bigger stake in the future of the neighborhood. Streetscape improvements could build upon the positive momentum generated from improved housing stock.

At Stowe Village and Nelton Court, the Hartford Housing Authority has replaced older, run-down buildings with a new diverse mix of rentals and owner-occupied houses. Projects such as the privately developed new housing under construction on the western part of Brackett Park and the Generations housing complex for grandparents raising grandchildren off Clark Street, are built on former community green space. Parker Memorial Community Center (Since Rebuilt)

Site of Future Owner-Occupied Duplexes Brackett Park

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L

Home Ownership In 2000, 11% of homes in the Northeast Neighborhood were owner-occupied. This compares to 25.9% owner-occupied in Hartford as a whole and 69.2% in Connecticut.

City of Hartford Neighborhood Stabilization Action Plan 2009

Acton Street

Westland S treet

Main Street

Nelton Court Public Housing

MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

Nelton Court Public Housing (Under Reconstruction)

Existing units have been razed to make way for the development of eighty new rental units. An expanded driveway onto Westland Street will better connect the complex to Bracket Park and Parker Memorial Community Center and bring more foot and vehicular traffic to Westland Street. K

Keney Park

L Parker Memorial Community Center

Swift Factory Site

Westland Street Facing North

Vine Street

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Gully Brook

Eastford Street

Focus Area

Garden Street Love Lane

Martin Street

Barbour Clark Street Street

Driveway to Main Parker Memorial Street Community Center


Focus Area: The North-South Corridor Eastern Edge of Keney Park • The five entrances, both for vehicles and pedestrians, are not clearly marked or obvious. • Illegal dumping occurs in the area where Gully Brook meets Westland Street. This kind of dumping is common throughout the park. • Keney Park Pond House is a busy area during the summer months. • A makeshift entrance on the southeastern corner of the park illustrates the need for more pedestrian entrances and crosswalks along the edge of the park.

The focus area for the project includes a north-south corridor that encompasses the interface of the eastern edge of Keney Park with the Northeast Neighborhood. The wooded, mainly unmarked, outeredge of the park doesn’t reflect the active park interior. This portion of the park exemplifies many of the assets and challenges that can be found throughout the park. • The ballfields at the SimpsonWaverly School are an example of active sports areas throughout the park. • The Simpson-Waverly School is one of many schools that are in walking distance of the park.

Keney Park

Josh Mitchom

Swift Factory

People gather at Keney Park Pond House.

MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

Keney Park

Northeast Hartford

NorthSouth Corridor

Focus Area

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Waverly ball fields

Sports in the Park The baseball fields off of Waverly Street provide an open space for people to gather and play sports. Renovations are scheduled to begin on the fields during the summer of 2012. The reconstructed ball fields will serve as a venue for regional Little League tournaments (Hale 2012).

Keney Park

The baseball fields, like the cricket fields in the northern section and the basketball courts throughout the park, are seasonally popular destinations. The areas where sports occur in the park attract many visitors and are some of the most active areas in the park.

Swift Factory

MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

Children who do not routinely participate in sports or activities outside of school are more likely to be overweight or obese compared with children who participate in free-time physical activity. (Children’s Defense Fund 2012)

Keney Park Ball Fields

Residents of the Northeast Neighborhood have the highest rates of obesity and heart disease in Hartford (Hartford Health Equity Index). Engaging young people in sports is one way to encourage physical activity and a healthier lifestyle.

Bird’s eye view of the ball fields north of Simpson-Waverly School.

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Focus Area

Joe Shlabotnik

MDA Geospatial Services, Inc.

Keney Park Baseball Fields.

Cricket is one of many popular sports in Keney Park. People travel far distances to attend tournaments.


Simpson-waverly school

Schools Near the Park SimpsonWaverly School

Swift Factory

MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

Keney Park

The Simpson-Waverly School is one of ten schools within a half-mile radius of Keney Park. Considering its vast acreage and rich biodiversity, the park could serve as a valuable outdoor classroom for students to learn about biology and the natural sciences. Based on community conversations, none of the schools currently incorporate Keney Park into their curriculum (Hester 2012). Several obstacles On average, households headed could be preventing schools from by a high school graduate bringing children to the park, accumulate ten times more including a lack of accessible trails wealth than a household and concerns about crime. headed by a high school dropAlthough the Simpson-Waverly out. Wealth is broadly defined School sits directly on the edge of as assets including savings, the park, there is no apparent homes, and cars. (Alliance For path connecting the school to the Excellent Education 2007) trail system. Education is a key component of the future success and economic stability of Northeast residents. Ensuring that there are quality schools in the neighborhood could contribute to a more stable neighborhood.

The Simpson-Waverly School serves grades K-8, and features programs such as the Gifted and Talented Enrichment Program and an annual science fair.

A gate leading into Keney Park is blocked by brush piles.

Keney Park can be seen behind the play area at Simpson-Waverly School.

Focus Area

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

17


Park Entrances

Unmarked and Indistinct There are five entry points on the eastern edge of the park that provide pedestrian access. There are a limited number of signs and no visible landmarks to make the entrances stand out, which may discourage visitors from entering the park.

Dense forest and undergrowth along most of the eastern edge prevent clear sight lines in and out of the park, which makes it feel unsafe. Not all entrances on the eastern edge of the park are pedestrian friendly or welcoming. The entrances do not adequately inform visitors of the positive activities that are happening within the park.

B

Swift Factory

C D

Existing Entrances on the Eastern Edge of Keney Park

B The vehicular entrance at Love Lane near Gully Brook is currently blocked off. Future plans include installing a gate and opening the road to cars during sporting events at the Waverly Ball Fields (Hale 2012).

MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

A The entryway at Love Lane and Vine Street connects with the carriage trail system. A vehicular exit only, this site’s prominent Do Not Enter signs may also dissuade pedestrians from using this entrance.

Keney A Park

MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

Two of the five access points also provide vehicle access and parking lots, and the Love Lane drive is an exit-only route for cars. Pedestrians can connect into the carriage trail system at Love Lane but the entrance is not particularly welcoming.

E

C There is no sign at the pedestrian entrance north of the Pond house on Edgewood Street.

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

D The Keney Park Pond House entrance at Edgewood Street and Keney Terrace has both a parking lot and a sidewalk.

Focus Area

E A small parking lot marks the entrance to the baseball fields on Waverly Street south of Tower Avenue.


Gully Brook

Illegal Dumping Gully Brook at Westland Street

Keney Park

Swift Factory

MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

Funding for maintenance in Hartford’s parks has declined steadily since the early 1990s. In 1996, the Hartford Parks and Recreation Department was abolished and maintenance for all parks was left in the care of the Department of Public Works. Over the past twenty years, the number of paid maintenance workers has dropped from 78 to 29. The diminished staff cannot keep up with the demands of maintaining such a large park system. Illegal dumping occurs throughout Keney Park and garbage is left to accumulate due to these budgetary restrictions (Green Ribbon Task Force 2011). Trash in the park has a negative environmental impact and shows a lack of care and can feed a cycle of negligence and disrespectful behavior.

Trash is dumped in the area where Gully Brook meets Westland Street and also washes down from upstream during flooding.

Focus Area

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

19


Keney Park Pond House

An Active Center

The Pond House is the gateway to one of the most active parts of the park. Entering from the Pond House entrance, visitors have access to Keney Park Pond, a swimming pool, playgrounds, and the West Open Meadow. Summer camps take place at the Pond House and the West Open Meadow is a popular gathering spot for recreation and socializing.

Keney Park

Keney Park Pond Keney Park Pool

Keney Park Pond House

Henry Hester

MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

Ebony Horsewomen

Swift Factory

A bridge over Keney Pond leads to a gazebo.

The Keney Park Pond House seen from Edgewood Street.

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Focus Area

Benches and picnic tables are found behind the Pond House.


Southeastern Corner

Lack of Crosswalks At the end of the focus area, on the southeastern corner of Edgewood Street and Greenfield Street, is a makeshift entrance that gets a lot of foot traffic. Pedestrians cut through at this corner to get to the West Open Meadow and to the western side of the park. There are no marked crosswalks to this or any of the entrances along the eastern edge of the park, making it unsafe for pedestrians crossing Vine and Edgewood Streets.

Keney Park

Swift Factory

MDA Geospatial Services, Inc

Southeastern Corner

There are no crosswalks leading into the southeastern corner of the park.

An impromptu entrance at the corner of Vine and Edgewood Streets.

Focus Area

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

21


Right: Loading dock door at the Swift Factory.

Apartments, duplexes and single-family homes are some of the housing types found in Northeast Hartford.

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Focus Area


Ideabook

What makes a neighborhood, inviting, safe, and vibrant?

A

vibrant neighborhood has streets where residents of all ages feel safe and comfortable walking. Job options are available nearby or are easily accessible by public transportation. It is a community in which residents have access to health and social services and where fresh, affordable food is available from neighborhood stores. A mother who needs to do laundry for her family can walk to a nearby laundromat, or wait for the bus in a covered bus stop. Vacant lots, no longer eyesores, are transformed into productive gardens, playgrounds, pocket parks, or new development. It is a place where quality, affordable housing is available and businesses grow and thrive. The neighborhood park is a destination where people play sports, gather for picnics, take walks in the woods, and learn about nature. The following section is a collection of ideas that explore ways to help make the Northeast Neighborhood a vibrant, safe and healthy place to live and visit. Beginning with physical design-based possibilities and moving on to programmatic ideas, it addresses challenges within the focus area, and looks at connections between the Northeast Neighborhood and initiatives happening at the broader scale of the City of Hartford. This ideabook also includes several case studies from communities that have successfully overcome similar challenges.

Introduction

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

23


Tools and Strategies for creating a Safe, Vibrant Neighborhood

Eyes on the Street Writer and urban activist Jane Jacobs coined the term “eyes on the street” for her observation that the more people and activity in a neighborhood, the safer the neighborhood is. Having more people in public spaces can reduce anti-social and illegal behavior.

When there is a lack of eyes on the street a negative cycle can develop.

The fewer people on the streets, the more dangerous the streets

Conversely, more people on the street can lead to safer streets and more people.

The more dangerous the streets, the fewer people use the streets

The more people on the streets, the safer the streets

“The trust of the city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts.” Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Northeast Hartford lost a quarter of its population between 1980 and 2000 (One City, One Plan 2010). Due to safety concerns, many remaining residents don’t feel fully comfortable using the streets and public spaces. Without people watching, the streets become less safe, feeding the negative cycle.

Ideabook

The safer the streets, the more people use the streets

How can Northeast Hartford change from a negative to a positive cycle?

Physical landscape changes, in combination with social and programmatic work, can improve the safety and usability of Northeast Hartford’s public spaces and contribute to the economic and social vitality of the neighborhood. Drawing from books such as Oscar Newman’s Defensible Space: Crime Prevention through Urban Design, Kaplan, Kaplan and Ryan’s With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature, and theories of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED), basic principles of safe design can be developed to guide landscape changes and help create safer streets and parks.


Designing for Safety

Natural Surveillance Well-designed spaces provide for effortless visibility. Areas with natural surveillance have clear sightlines, allow people to see potential threats, and are easily seen from streets or neighboring windows. Potential offenders may be deterred by high visibility (Crowe & Zahm 1994).

Visibility of others.

Visibility by others.

Legibility

Knowing where you are and where you’re going is a key component of feeling secure in an environment. Legible signs and maps, visible landmarks for orientation, and defined, differentiated landscapes can all increase people’s sense of safety (Kaplan et al.1998).

Knowledge and Education

Even if crime is not a factor, some residents of urban environments find “wild” nature threatening, due to a lack of knowledge of the natural world. Urban students visiting wildland areas frequently cite fears of snakes, insects and getting lost (Bixell et al. 1994). Fears can be appropriate or based on a lack of familiarity. The inability to read one’s own environment can be frightening. Educating people about nature and designing spaces to enhance familiarity can increase visitors’ comfort levels (Kaplan et al. 1998).

Found at a fork in the trail in Keney Park, the sign gives no information about where the trails lead and contains a map with no labels.

Maintenance and Territoriality Public areas that are unmaintained may invite criminal behavior. It can be more effective to devote resources fully to smaller areas and expand them only as more resources become available. Spaces, both public and private, are more respected if they are perceived as belonging to someone. Residents who feel a space is within their sphere of influence are more likely to question negative behavior of people in the space. Perceived ownership, symbolic or real, can be asserted through use and maintenance of the site. Repairs and other signs of care can potentially impact how people perceive a neighborhood and behave in it (Crowe & Zahm 1994).

Graffiti on the side of a boarded factory on Barbour Street.

IdeaBook

Cracked tennis court in Keney Park.

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

25


Designing Safe Woodlands in Keney Park

Much of Keney Park is heavily wooded. How can Keney Park keep its natural wooded character, yet be welcoming and safe for neighborhood residents? Maintaining different amounts of openness within a wooded landscape offers different benefits and constraints.

Clearing understory and maintaining a managededge in the popular wooded areas nearest trails enhances visibility and has the potential to increase safety (Kaplan et al. 1998). Low-use areas such as the Ten-Mile Woods could be left as natural wooded landscapes until there is a demand and a maintenance budget available to manage them more intensively.

Natural Wooded Landscape

Open Savannah Landscape

Managed-Edge Wooded Landscape

Benefits

Benefits

Benefits

• Opportunity to experience nature in an urban center • Rich wildlife habitat

Constraints

• Far sight lines allow visitors to see potential threats as well as desired destinations • Mowed grass understory is a familiar, unthreatening landscape

• Maintains some of natural aesthetic and wildlife habitat, while improving sight-lines and signs of care in the park

• Lack of visibility can be threatening and unsafe

Constraints • Limited wildlife habitat • Differs from Charles Eliot’s historic vision of Keney Park

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Ideabook

Constraints • Reduces wildlife habitat • Requires maintenance of the path edge


Applying Safe Design Principles: The Pedestrian Entrance on Edgewood Street

Entrances to the park influence visitors’ first impressions. They should be clear and welcoming. By providing instructive signs and open sight lines, entrances can help inform visitors of the activities that take place within the park.

The pedestrian entrance to Keney Park Pond on Edgewood Street, north of Keney Terrace.

The pedestrian entrance to Keney Pond with a managed wooded edge and additional signs and plantings.

Observations

Recommendations

• There are no signs to welcome or orient visitors. While Keney Pond is just a few minutes’ walk away, a visitor unfamiliar with the park would have no idea where the trail leads to. • Dense forest growth blocks views into the park. • There is no curb cut, which makes the path inaccessible to wheelchairs, strollers, and bicycles.

• Provide a clear and inviting sign that orients visitors to where they are and where the trail will take them. • Thin trees and clear brush along the path to create a managed forest edge with improved sight lines into the park. • Add a bench or plantings to formalize the entrance. • Add a curb cut for accessibility.

.

IdeaBook

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Improving Walkability

Walkable neighborhoods promote healthy lifestyles, build safer, people-friendly communities, and have a positive environmental impact. In a more walkable Northeast Hartford, residents would enjoy all of these benefits, but more importantly, residents’ ability to conduct daily activities and reach needed services would be improved. People at the lowest end of the economic stratum are particularly vulnerable to economic or social disruption. Access to health and social support services

Post Office & Library at Unity Plaza

SimpsonWaverly School

Love La ne

can be the difference between a family or individual becoming homeless or staying in their home. Fortythree percent of households in Northeast Hartford do not have vehicles (Nielsen Claritas 2011), meaning that these residents must rely on public transportation and walking for all of their transportation needs. The most vulnerable people frequently have the most difficulty reaching essential services. Even small improvements in walkability, could have a large impact on Northeast Hartford residents’ quality of life.

Risley S treet

Westlan d

Keney Park

Westland Street & Beyond: Neighborhood Walking Routes

Swift Factory & Urban Farm

One of the few east-west streets that crosses the entire neighborhood, Westland Street is an important transportation corridor. Improving walkability on Westland Street has the potential to improve residents’ access to positive assets such as Keney Park, the Swift Factory, and Parker Memorial Community Center. The benefits of improved connectivity could extend beyond Westland Street to a range of assets found in the several blocks to the north. A proposed urban farm on the vacant lots on Earle Street and the new housing being developed in the western half of Brackett Park offer a positive shift in activities along Earle and Naugatuck Streets. Unity Plaza, at the corner of Barbour and Risley Streets, contains the local library branch and the post office. The

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Ideabook

Green & Residential Walking Route Potential Urban Future Farm Site of New Duplexes

Street

Westland Street Walking Route

Parker Memorial Community Center

Simpson-Waverly School is less then a quarter mile north of Westland Street. By expanding the original Westland Street corridor north, an additional, greener and more residential route connecting Keney Park and Parker Memorial Community Center emerges, giving residents even more walking options. This route could extend from Brackett Park through the new homes on Naugatuck Street and into the urban farm on Earle Street. While less direct, the route would have less vehicular traffic than on Westland Street. Crossing directly through the Swift property and continuing on to Love Lane, it would bring pedestrians into the heart of the Swift Factory’s urban farm and all the activities happening on site.


Ideabook: Creating Safe Walkable Streets Safe & Inviting StreetS

Pedestrian Crossings Clearly marked pedestrian crossings at intersections, bus stops and park entrances are vital to creating safe interactions between cars and pedestrians.

Curb Extensions

Complete Streets

• Make pedestrians more visible and shorten walking distance between curbs. • Narrow streets, causing cars to naturally slow. • Expand right of way and provide more space for trees, stormwater infiltration or street furniture.

Curb extensions and boldly painted crosswalks help make pedestrian crossings visible to motorists.

Bus Shelters & Street Amenities The neighborhood lacks bus shelters and benches. The only shelters are found at the far northern end of Main Street. Bus shelters, or even benches, at major bus stops would greatly increase the comfort of riders. New shelters should be sited at locations with the highest density of riders, with priority given to locations that have services for the elderly and preschool-age children. Lighting is essential for safety at bus stops and trash cans can reduce litter.

IdeaBook

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Increasing Street Trees & Vegetation Street trees improve air quality, reduce asthma rates, cool city streets, and beautify neighborhoods. Studies in poor urban neighborhoods have shown that vegetation that does not block visibility can actually reduce crime and help residents feel more hopeful about the future (Kuo and Sullivan 2001).

Intersection of Westland and Barbour Streets, existing (left) and proposed (right).

Trees should be chosen for their ability to handle tough environmental conditions and adaptability to climate change and rising temperatures. The mature size of the tree and proximity to power lines should also be considered. Local residents and children who plant trees will feel more ownership of them and the trees are likely to receive better care.

Green Infrastructure & Stormwater Infiltration

What is a Bio-Swale?

Curb extension swales (bio-swales), rain gardens, and permeable pavement can be combined to: • Manage stormwater runoff both at the source and the surface. • Slow, filter, cleanse, and infiltrate runoff using plants. Greg Raisman

A bio-swale is a trench or drainage course, planted with vegetation, that collects and treats stormwater runoff. Bio-swales are commonly used in parking lots or near roads, where substantial automotive pollution is collected by the paving and then flushed by rain. The bio-swale infiltrates the runoff with excess water released into the watershed or storm sewer.

A bio-swale allows rainwater to infiltrate the soil instead of entering the stormwater system.

• Enhance the beauty of the streetscape. Monitored projects in the city of Portland, Oregon, have shown cost-effective on-site capture of 80-95 percent of stormwater runoff, reducing sewer overflows and improving water quality.

Cracked, broken, and missing sidewalks are a barrier to mobility. Building a strong, diverse community includes ensuring that the streets are accessible to seniors, young children in strollers, and the physically disabled. Sidewalk maintenance in Hartford is the responsibility of property owners. Absentee owners who allow their buildings to become dilapidated may also neglect the sidewalks in front of their property. 30

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Google Earth

Cracked Sidewalks

Cracked sidewalk on Westland Street.

Ideabook

A man in a wheelchair is forced into the street to avoid a patch of broken sidewalk on the 2100 block of North Main Street.


Hartford Initiatives: The iQuilt Plan

contribute to Downtown’s pattern or quilt—will also include a system of wayfinding signs and maps showing travel time on-foot in minutes. Improved lighting and historic/cultural markers will contribute to better pedestrian orientation while improved bus stop signs and shelters will contribute to a seamless integration of the transit and walking networks.

The iQuilt plan aims to make downtown Hartford’s public spaces more enjoyable and walkable by linking art and cultural assets with a chain of green spaces called Greenwalk. The proposed mile-long Greenwalk will provide an east-west backbone for the network of public spaces downtown including parks, plazas, streets, and sidewalks. It will also provide an easy, walkable connection between Bushnell Park and the Connecticut Riverfront. The plan proposes improving street design to slow traffic and enhance walkability. Narrower roadways and wider sidewalks will encourage a broad range of users including pedestrians, transit riders, cyclists, the elderly, and the disabled. City planners hope that this will in turn increase economic activity downtown. The improved streets will have built-in infrastructure for capturing and cleaning stormwater. Permeable paving, bio-swales, rain gardens, and retention basins will be used to clean and hold excess water and cisterns will save greywater for later use.

Gully Brook once merged with the Park River in Bushnell Park, but both waterways were buried in conduits after severe flooding in the 1930s. In the new plan for Bushnell Park, potential flooding will be addressed through multiple measures, including green infrastructure that will store and also clean water. The iQuilt plan proposes expensive and comprehensive improvements to downtown’s infrastructure. The Northeast Neighborhood and Keney Park are integrally connected to downtown, in part through Gully Brook. While the iQuilt plan proposes to make Gully Brook a major component of the Bushnell Park renovation, just upstream at Keney Park it is choked with refuse. In addition, the brook regularly floods at Love Lane, restricting access to the park. Could some of the water quality and potential flooding concerns downtown be addressed effectively by taking actions upstream in the Northeast Neighborhood?

Ben Pollard

The iQuilt plan—“i” stands for ingenuity and “quilt” refers to each initiative of the project as a patch that will

In addition to improving streets, the plan calls for enhancing green spaces and parks. Restoring and extending Bushnell Park will be a significant aspect of the project and a major feature of the Bushnell renovation will be the return of flowing water to the historic riverbed by daylighting a section of Gully Brook in the park.

Connecticut State Library

iQuilt, a key component of Hartford’s ten-year plan (2010) is an urban design plan that acknowledges the importance of enhancing walkability and creative placemaking in the city. Focused on downtown, the plan’s strategies to make Hartford a more vibrant, sustainable and prosperous city could apply to revitalization efforts in all of Hartford’s neighborhoods. The first phase of construction is scheduled to begin during the summer of 2012.

A bird’s eye view of downtown Hartford and Bushnell Park.

The Park River can be seen here flowing through Bushnell Park. It was buried in conduits after severe flooding in the 1930s.

IdeaBook

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31


A Safe Greenway Along the Park’s Edge

Holcomb Street

Edg ew

ood

St.

Vine Street

Swift Factory Wes tla

nd S

treet

Existing Entrance Proposed New Pedestrian Entrance Greenway

Approximate location of proposed park-edge greenway and additional pedestrian entrances.

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Ideabook


Proposed Park Edge Greenway

Bike Lane

Parking Lane

Roadway

Parking Lane

Bike Lane

Sidewalk

Cross Section of Park Edge Greenway and Vine Street A wide walking trail corridor, or greenway, along the eastern edge of Keney Park would enhance safety and walkability in the park and the neighborhood. There are no sidewalks on the western sides of Vine and Edgewood Streets, the sides that border the park. A greenway trail meandering among the trees would provide an inviting alternative to walking on those streets. It would allow visitors to the park to experience walking in the woods while remaining visible from the street. Clearing trees for the trail would create an opening in the forest, making interior parts of the park more visible from the street.

Three additional pedestrian entrances would provide more accessibility and would connect visitors to the existing system of carriage roads and trails. Additional entry points would also serve as exits from the park and would reduce the possibility of pedestrians feeling trapped. Bike lanes on Vine Street are currently situated between parking and traffic lanes which makes cyclists vulnerable to being hit by moving traffic. Switching the position of the parking lanes with the bike lanes would make a safer environment for cyclists by providing a buffer from moving cars.

IdeaBook

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Activating The Front of the Swift Site

The southernmost corner of the Swift property is a visible, prominent space located at the center of the Five-Corners intersection on Westland Street. Applying temporary design solutions to this triangle of land would be an immediate way to engage the public with the Swift project while the building itself is being renovated. The land could be envisioned as a way-station for passersby, a restorative green space, a gathering area and community center. Possible opportunities include the following.

Farm Stand

The Five-Corners Urban Farm is already growing vegetables at the Swift site. A farm stand could make produce grown on site accessible to the community. An open-air structure, temporary or permanent, could provide cover and alternatively serve as a gathering space when not in use as a market. A farm stand could bring people and activity to the Five-Corners intersection on a regular basis throughout the growing season. Selling produce from the urban farm would also increase local residents’ access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Expanding the farm stand into a larger farmer’s market would bring more activity to the corner and

The empty space of lawn at the southern end of the Swift factory site. 34

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Ideabook

Local Food/Farm Stand The closest farmers market to the Swift factory is located a little under a mile away, at the North End Senior Center. While the North End Farmers Market falls within the boundaries of Hartford’s Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, it is isolated from most of the neighborhood by Keney Park. Frog Hollow Farmers Market, which is two miles away from the Swift factory, and the North End Market both offer a double-value program for food purchased with benefit cards (SNAP, WIC and EBT), making quality food more accessible to low-income community members. Another way of getting healthy, locally grown food into the hands of residents would be for urban farms to partner with local corner stores to sell produce. If corner stores agreed to participate, the partnership would allow residents to buy produce at convenient hours.

would further increase options for local, fresh food in a convenient location. A farmer’s market could also serve as a venue for local artisans and craftspeople to sell their products.


Privately Owned Pocket Park

Planting trees, shrubs and perennials and installing benches and walkways could reshape the empty space into an inviting green oasis. The low spot near the southernmost door on Love Lane could be an appropriate location for a demonstration rain garden. Having a park on this corner would add shade, beauty, and color to an otherwise stark intersection.

Children’s Events/Children’s Library

Making use of the open-air structure and moveable furniture, the park could be used to host regular activities for young children such as storytelling, performances, educational activities, and social hours. A temporary library could be set up with moveable boxes of books and toys. Activities such as reading hours that served lemonade and iced tea would entice children to visit the library and to play in the park.

Social Gathering Space

A Saturday afternoon social hour, serving lemonade and iced tea, could bring people from the community

together to talk about their visions for the community and connect with Swift project staff.

Outdoor Movie Theater

The space could be transformed into an outdoor movie theater for weekly screenings. Movies could be projected onto a screen hung from the wall of the Swift building and hay bales could serve as temporary, moveable seats. Consideration should be given as to whether residents would feel comfortable attending an event at night.

Performances

The park could serve as a venue for music, theater and dance performances, and other cultural events. Activating the southern corner of the property could be a momentous first step in transforming the Swift site into a lively gathering area and hub of activity in the neighborhood.

The space could be envisioned as a farmer’s market and community gathering area. IdeaBook

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Transforming Vacant Lots

The neighborhood’s many vacant lots offer possibilities to repurpose unused land. A range of strategies can be applied to transform lots from potential problems into positive assets. If vacant lots are uncared for, they may attract negative behavior in the neighborhood such as vandalism, illegal dumping, and other crimes. Vacant lots are expensive for the city to maintain and they can cause surrounding property values to decrease. In a 2006 study by the Carnegie Mellon Heinz School, entitled Vacant to Vibrant, a Guide for Revitalizing Vacant Lots in Your Neighborhood, successful case studies from comparable neighborhoods show that “greening” vacant lots can have positive effects on neighborhoods:

NeighborSpace

• In New York City, there was a 9.5 percent rise in property values within 1,000 feet of a community garden in disadvantaged communities, within five years of the garden opening. • There was a 30 percent increase in surrounding housing values due to greening vacant land in Philadelphia. • For every dollar invested, a $2.09 return resulted from implementation of a vacant lot stabilization program in Pittsburgh. • More than 90 percent of Philadelphia community gardeners give food to neighbors, friends, and organizations that feed people
in need. Stabilizing lots can be an effective, low-cost first step in transforming these spaces and preparing them for future use. Taking simple steps such as removing trash, planting trees and grass, and installing fences, shows that a space is cared for. Demonstrating care of lots can deter criminal activity and increase property values, while providing ecological and health benefits in urban settings. Gardeners at the Keystone Community Garden in Chicago.

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Ideabook

After stabilization, there are many short-term and long-term strategies to effectively repurpose lots. With the help of committed residents, community partners, and organizations, vacant lots can become tools for transformation. The following are ways other communities have turned vacant lots into valued resources.

• Community Gardens

Community gardens are an effective way to improve lots and foster community connections. As an outdoor activity, gardening brings people into the public sphere, adding “eyes on the street” and potentially increasing social trust among residents of a neighborhood. Growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers provides food for residents, habitat for pollinators, and enhances neighborhood beauty. Community gardens also provide many opportunities for people to learn about horticulture, agriculture, and nature.

• Urban Farms and Market Gardens

These more intensive versions of community gardens are created to yield enough produce or goods to sell in a marketplace. Market gardens can provide job training and employment opportunities for neighborhood residents.

• Pocket Parks

By installing ornamental plantings, benches and paths, vacant lots can be turned into pocket parks, providing beauty and space for passive enjoyment.

• Nurseries

Nurseries can produce a variety of plant material for the neighborhood, city, and beyond, while providing jobs for the community.

• Composting Facilities

Composting is a way to combine organic waste material, such as woody debris and lawn clippings, to create an ecological and economically beneficial resource.


Transforming Vacant Lots

• Phytoremediation

Some contaminated soils can be treated and cleaned through the process of phytoremediation, in which certain plants bio-accumulate toxins from the soil. This can be a cost-effective and ecological way of turning brownfield sites into usable land (Kuhl 2010).

• Urban Oil Seed Crops

Sunflowers and brassica plants, such as mustard and canola, can be used to remediate soil and produce vegetable oils used to produce clean-burning biodiesel. These crops can provide a valuable option for urban farming on brownfield sites. The Brassica Project, sponsored by Steel City Biofuels, is transforming brownfields in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, into organic urban oil seed farms (GTECH Strategies 2006).

• Recreational Sites

Re-fashioning vacant lots into playgrounds and basketball courts can provide valuable recreational space. By having play areas scattered throughout the neighborhood, walking distances are reduced, adding safety and convenience to visitors.

• Public Art

Vacant lots can provide space for community expression through temporary or permanent installations of murals, sculpture and sculpture gardens. Art projects can involve or be led by neighborhood residents and are an opportunity to start a community dialogue. See pages 40-41 about initiating public art programs in the Northeast Neighborhood.

ships with community organizations that maintain and develop the spaces.

Cities with Community OpenLand Trusts Boston, MA - South End Lower Roxbury Open Space Land Trust Chicago, IL - NeighborSpace Baltimore, MD - Baltimore Green Space

A Network of Green Space

Building upon the work already happening at Swift Factory’s Five-Corners Urban Farm, and the potential Knox Parks farm project on Earle Street (see page 28), vacant lots throughout the neighborhood could be developed into community gardens and urban farms, creating a network of green spaces in the neighborhood. These transformations could be temporary, leaving the land available for future development, or become permanent green spaces depending on ownership and community needs.

Determining the best use of vacant lots

When developing a process to determine the most appropriate ways to utilize lots, factors such as neighboring resources, quality of soil, visibility of the site, amount of sun, ownership, and number of committed partners, are all important considerations. Some strategies require more funding and are more appropriate for long-term projects rather than temporary ones. Likewise, some projects require intensive input, such as community gardens and urban farms, while others require less intensive maintenance commitments.

• Solar Panels

Installing solar arrays or small-scale solar farms would be another beneficial, ecological and economically beneficial way to use vacant land (Northwest Community Energy 2012).

Community open-land trusts are non-profit organizations that protect land for use as community gardens and pocket parks within urban environments. Land is either bought or donated to the trust. Land trusts provide liability insurance for public use and develop partner-

NeighborSpace

Community Open-Land Trusts

Children pick greens in a community garden hoop house in Chicago.

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Transforming Vacant Lots

Stabilize Lot Low

Trees, grass & fence show that lot is cared for

ut inp

Phytoremediation

Toxic soils are rehabilitated with bio-accumulating plants.

Recreational Sites

Playgrounds and basketball courts provide space for play and recreation.

Medium input

m

iu

ed

M

ns

e nt

I

ive

t

pu

in

Intensive inpu

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in

Market Gardens & Urban Farms

High yield crops produce food, income and jobs.

Community Gardens

Vegetables, herbs and flowers provide food, beauty and habitat.

Pocket Parks

Parks provide beauty and space for passive enjoyment.

Biofuel Crops

Urban Art

Public art engages community and beautifies neighborhood.

Oil seed crops remediate soil and provide bio-fuel.

Green Strategies for Re-purposing Vacant Lots

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Ideabook


Proposed Pocket Park

A vacant lot across from the Swift site on the corner of Garden and Westland Streets could be an appropriate location for a pocket park. Centrally located between Keney Park and the Parker Memorial Recreation Center, it would provide green space in the heart of the Westland Street Corridor.

Keney Park

Vacant Lot Swift Site

• The lot is on a highly visible intersection which could make it safer. • By bringing people to the Five-Corners intersection, the park could increase neighborhood safety. • There is already a bus stop on this corner. Waiting for the bus could become a safer and more enjoyable experience with added greenery and increased activity. People waiting for the bus would also provide “eyes on the street” for the park.

PMCC

Vacant lot on the corner of Garden & Westland Streets.

A proposed pocket park in that same vacant lot could provide green space at the center of the Westland Street Corridor.

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Engaging the Community through Art

Community-based art has the potential to beautify the neighborhood, engage young people and celebrate neighborhood identity.

Mural Art

Señor Codo

Murals can express community pride and history. Many cities have enacted successful after-school art apprenticeships, engaging young people and local artists in creating murals and community art, such as Boston’s Artists for Humanity’s Youth Arts Enterprise and Washington DC’s City Arts.

The faces of residents of the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago are depicted in this mural by artist Jeff Zimmerman.

School children helped to create the mosaic and paint the mural at LaSalle II Elementary Magnet School in Chicago.

Boarded Buildings

Boarded windows and empty storefronts are blank canvasses for community art projects. Temporary art installations can reduce the appearance of blight and start community dialogue.

“Keney Park was a world unto itself. It’s where we slid down the hill, skated, learned to play tennis, and where lifelong friendships were made.” -Charlotte Ticotskty Brick

Children’s art, window scenes, the community’s stories and history compiled from interviews could be displayed in the windows of empty buildings and the Swift Factory during renovation.

Northeast Resident 1930s

Cities such as Detroit and Cleveland have hired artists to paint plywood covered windows to look like real windows. This building on Westland Street could look more inviting with simple painted windows.

Neighborhood memories of current and past Northeast residents such as Charlotte Ticotsky Brick, could decorate empty windows as simulated here on a vacant building at the intersection of Westland and Barbour Streets.

Toban Black

Spray Chalk & Mud Stencils

Spray chalk and mud can be used with stencils to create temporary art pieces. Images can be stenciled onto streets, sidewalks, and walls, and will wash off within weeks. To emphasize Westland Street’s new status as a safe walkable corridor, children could spray footprints on the sidewalk—as well as the tracks of foxes, coyotes, hawks and other wildlife that are found within Keney Park.

A mud stencil celebrates urban farming.

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Ideabook


Intersection art by City Repair, an organization that works to empower communities to creatively transform their neighborhoods.

Art designed and painted by the community at the center of an intersection, is a way to slow traffic, brighten the neighborhood and engage the neighborhood in changing their environment. Designs can be developed by residents to reflect their interests and backgrounds.

Flickr user Donkeycart

Helen Graham

Intersection Art

Residents in Portland, Oregon, come together annually to repaint intersection designs.

Signs located at the tip of the Swift property at the Five-Corners intersection, could orient people and remind them of the wonderful assets located in the neighborhood and beyond.

Art as Wayfinding A compass rose intersection marking important landmarks could show the neighborhood in relation to surrounding destinations.

By placing stickers and markers on boarded buildings throughout New Orleans, artist Candy Chang started a dialogue among residents about what those buildings could become.

Fuzzy Gerdes

Jason Mcdermott

Interactive Art

Public art can be a tool for the community to envision its own future and foster dialogue. By encouraging interaction, art can engage the passer-by.

Candy Chang’s art piece “Before I Die” asks people to share their future aspirations. Displayed here on an empty storefront in Chicago, the piece has been recreated in cities throughout the world.

Environmental Art

Art can call attention to environmental processes happening within the neighborhood. The path the Gully Brook travels after it is piped underground could be painted on the streets and sidewalk, reminding people of the nature beneath their feet. This could be painted by school children, using more permanent paint, or temporary spray chalk, and integrated into larger studies of Gully Brook, stormwater and the natural processes occurring within Keney Park.

Sidewalk designs could depict the underground path of Gully Brook.

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Improving Public Transportation

Buses are an essential form of transportation for many Northeast residents. All types of citizens, including the elderly, mothers with small children, and the physi-

cally disabled, rely on buses to reach essential services. Five bus lines run through the neighborhood, connecting to downtown and across town.

46 Vine 44 Garden

40 North Main & 42 Barbour 92 Tower Ave Crosstown 44 Garden Extension

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Base map courtesy of the City of Hartford

Bus Routes in Northeast Hartford

Observations

Expanding Bus Routes to Improve Connectivity

• More options exist for traveling north-south than east-west. • The only bus line traveling east-west through the neighborhood is located at the northern end of the neighborhood and runs hourly from approximately seven in the morning until eight in the evening, with no Sunday service. • Residents don’t always feel safe walking the east-west blocks between bus-lines. (Fowler 2012) • Limited night-time buses limits residents’ options to work late shifts.

Expanding the 44 Garden bus line would enhance east-west connectivity in the neighborhood. Currently the 44 travels from downtown north up Garden Street, loops around Charlotte Street, Waverly Street, and Love Lane returning to Garden Street heading south. This loop could be expanded to cross the neighborhood by turning east on Westland Street, north at Main Street and west on Kensington, bringing the bus back to it’s original path on Charlotte Street. This would provide two additional east-west travel options to residents in the center of the neighborhood and would only add approximately 5 minutes to the route.

A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Ideabook


Job Training & Community Greening

Case Study: Greencorps, Chicago Started in 1994, Greencorps is a city-run, green collar job-training initiative funded from a broad spectrum of public and private sources including City of Chicago Community Development Block Grant funding, utility, in-kind, ARRA, and a USCM-Wal-Mart Green Jobs Training Initiative Best Practice Grant (Institute for Sustainable Communities 2010). Greencorps equips people facing multiple barriers to employment with job skills in horticulture, ecological restoration, weatherization, electronics recycling, and warehousing. Wrap-around support services, incorporated into the program ensure that 75 percent of the annual seventy-plus participants, many of whom are ex-offenders, find steady employment upon graduation (City of Chicago 2012). Besides providing valuable job training, Greencorps strengthens community greening efforts by offering labor, plants, and supports to neighborhood organiza-

tions at no cost. They require groups seeking garden assistance to submit applications and attend trainings in basic design and community organizing. These trainings reinforce the work of community partners, and ensure the partner’s level of commitment before resources are invested in the space.

Greencorps trainees load mulch at a community garden.

Job Training & Cemetery Repair

A large number of historic cemeteries, both privately and publicly owned, lie within Hartford’s city boundaries. Spring Grove Cemetery and several Jewish cemeteries can be found within the Northeast Neighborhood. Saint Patrick’s Cemetery, Old North Cemetery, Mount Saint Benedict, and North Woods cemetery lie just outside the neighborhood’s border. The historic Old North Cemetery is home to the graves of many important figures in Hartford’s history including Horace Bushnell, Daniel Wadsworth, Frederick Law Olmsted, and dozens of AfricanAmerican infantryman from the Civil War. The city has begun a 1.2 million dollar renovation of the burial grounds, but more work and money is needed to repair broken and aging tombstones (Green 2012).

Jewish Cemetery on Waverly Street.

With the abundance of older cemeteries in the neighborhood and region, there is ample work for craftspeople trained to repair tombstones. A small training program could give neighborhood residents the necessary skills in stone working and cemetery maintenance. While there is no lack of need for cemetery repair, a concern is whether the city or private organizations will have the funds to hire people to perform these jobs (Hale 2012).

Cemeteries in Northeast Hartford

Spring Grove Cemetery St. Patricks Cemetery

IdeaBook

Old North Cemetery

Base map courtesy of the City of Hartford

Jewish Cemeteries

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Hartford Initiatives: Green Ribbon Task force

Green Ribbon Task Force

Hartford has an exceptional number of parks covering a large area. Thirty-one parks comprise 2000 acres of open space within the city limits. Seven of the larger, more prominent parks account for half of this area: Keney, Elizabeth, Goodwin, Pope, Colt, Riverside, and Bushnell. There are twenty-four smaller neighborhood parks, playgrounds, and memorials and six city-owned cemeteries. Hartford’s parks have been in a state of decline over the past twenty years. In 1992, there were 78 park workers, many with specialized skills in park maintenance. In 2002, the number had dropped to 58 and today it stands at 29. The budget has shrunk from $6.14 million in 2001 to approximately $3 million in 2010. Staffing and funding shortfalls were compounded by the discontinuation of the Parks and Recreation Department in 1996. Maintenance services were then placed under the Department of Public Works (DPW) and recreational services under the Department of Health and Human Services. The diminished staff cannot keep up with the demands of Hartford’s large park system Supporting and advocating for the changes and improvements that the Green Ribbon Task Force has recommended for Hartford’s Parks could result in positive changes for Keney Park and the Northeast Neighborhood. If Keney Park were a cleaner, safer place, it could become a more desirable destination for residents of the Northeast Neighborhood and visitors from other parts of Hartford and beyond.

Helder Mira

The Green Ribbon Task Force was created by Hartford’s Mayor Segarra to address citizens’ concerns that Hartford’s parks are not being properly managed or cared for. The committee met monthly during 2010 and 2011 and issued a report titled “Hartford’s Parks,” that included forty-two recommendations to correct the failing state of the parks. The report could inform maintenance strategies and any future projects which aim to improve Keney Park.

Children play baseball with members of law enforcement at Hartford’s Pope Park during the National Night Out 2008.

Green Ribbon Task Force Recommendations for Hartford’s Park System Reunite Parks and Recreation Services • These two departments should be unified and function as a single entity. Increase Park Maintenance Workforce • The number of workers needs to progressively increase to sixty-four to meet the demands of maintaining the parks. Establish a Department of Environmental Services •A department of Environmental Services would include the DPW, Parks and Recreation, and other environmentally related services. Combat Illegal Dumping •Increase fines, improve surveillance, and establish more aggressive law enforcement. Maximize the Utilization of Volunteer Services • Expand the role of volunteer organizations and create a youth conservation corps to augment maintenance demands. Provide the Public with Information about the Parks • Create links to park information on the city’s website and establish a phone line with a listing in the phone book. Adopt a Tree Ordinance and Establish a Tree Fund •Take measures to ensure that Hartford’s valuable street trees and park forests are properly cared for. Hire a City Forester Hire a Highly Qualified Parks Director

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Ideabook


Environmental School Programs

Project Learning Tree and Project WILD Engaging neighborhood school children with educational programs in Keney Park could enrich learning and foster a curiosity and respect for nature. Research shows that schools that use outdoor classrooms and other methods of hands-on learning produce students with improved standardized test scores and enhanced skills in problem-solving, critical thinking and decision-making (Louv 2006). Implementing environmental programs that build upon state standards and curriculum could be a logical approach to involving children in experiential learning in the park. Two programs that local schools could adopt are Project Learning Tree and Project WILD.

James River Association

Project Learning Tree is a national environmental education curriculum designed for teachers and other educators working with youth from preschool through high school. Using the forest as a “Window on the World,” the program engages children with the environment through hands-on and interdisciplinary activities and fosters a sense of responsibility and commitment to caring for the environment (Project Learning Tree).

A student in Virginia gets up close with a grasshopper during a field trip.

Project Learning Tree is a program of the American Forest Foundation. Within Connecticut, it is co-sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.

students. Materials for the WILD program are used indoors or outdoors and include a mix of activities for independent exploration, cooperative learning, and full group instruction. Materials are appropriate for use by formal classroom teachers as well as by people who work with youth outside of the classroom. Project WILD addresses the need for children to develop a sense of responsibility for the planet. (Project WILD).

Project WILD is another national environmental education curriculum, which focuses on wildlife conservation education for elementary school and high school

Henry Hester

A national network of state wildlife agency sponsors ensures that the program is available nationwide. In Connecticut, Project WILD is co-sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. (The cost for attending a six-hour workshop and obtaining materials for both programs is $40.00.) Several schools in the Hartford area are currently using Project Learning Tree and Project WILD materials in their curriculums including the Two River’s Magnet School, the Mary Hooker Middle School, the Annie Fisher Magnet School, and the Watkinson School (Quincy 2012).

A spotted salamander in Keney Park.

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reviving a neighborhood through environmental education In The Park

Case Study: The Urban Ecology Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin The Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, is a successful and ground-breaking model for urban environmental education and an example of the role such education can play in revitalizing a community. Started as a neighborhood effort to reclaim the historic, Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Riverside Park from criminal activities, the program has grown into a community cornerstone that serves tens of thousands of visitors annually.

The Urban Ecology Center has grown from its humble beginnings with volunteer naturalists in an old portable classroom trailer to its current staff of thirty-six people and a state-of-the-art, green building. It has developed the Neighborhood Environmental Education Project and partners with forty schools within a two-mile radius of the school. Each school receives twenty-four half-day workshops spread out throughout the year, allowing students to experience the park during multiple seasons. Programs are geared to grade-specific learning standards and offered at a reasonable cost to schools.

The Friends of Riverside Park group formed in the late 1980s to clean up the wooded park. They came up with an innovative idea: activate the park with daily field trips from neighborhood schools. This improved safety in the park, enhanced curriculum at struggling schools, and fostered a greater understanding of nature for local residents. At the time, neighborhood schools had high dropout rates and nearly 90 percent of students qualified for free school lunches. Many of these students had little experience with nature (Leinbach, 2008).

School programs combined with extensive community programs and seven-day-a-week, day and evening open-hours, have helped turn the building into a community center that fosters engagement and mentoring across generational, racial, economic, and political lines (Leinbach, 2008). The Urban Ecology Center developed in a neighborhood facing similar challenges to Northeast Hartford and utilizes a similar historically significant, biologically diverse, wooded park. Its success could be a model for maximizing Keney Park’s potential as a driver for positive change.

Flicker user 2fs

The group found that bringing area students to the park on a regular basis actually drove away criminal activities. Crime began dropping in the late 1980s as activities in the Riverside Park increased, and declined at a faster rate in the park than in the city of Milwaukee as a whole.

Built in 2004, the Urban Ecology Center’s state-of-the-art green building features a green roof, rainwater harvesting and a forty-foot climbing wall

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Ideabook

The black line represents crime rates for the entire city of Milwaukee, while the purple bars show crime in the census district containing Riverside Park. With no major changes in the neighborhood other then the addition of the Urban Ecology Center, crime rates have fallen faster in the park than in the city as a whole (Leinbach, 2008).


Creating Safe Parks Through Ranger Programs

Case Study: Riverfront Rangers, Hartford, Connecticut

The rangers’ annual budget of $300,000 supports two year-round staff and 25 additional seasonal rangers from May through October. Funding is provided through the Metropolitan District (MDC), which adds a small surcharge on water service to support park maintenance and the ranger program. The program has benefited from strong leadership by its original and current Directors of Ranger Services, both ex-Hartford police officers, and returning seasonal rangers drawn from the surrounding community. Having a steady financing source has allowed the parks to focus on building a successful program without having to worry about securing funds every year (Morse 2012).

Increased patrols, whether by horseback, bicycle, ATV, or by foot, could increase safety and provide goodwill ambassadors for Keney Park. An expansion of existing programs or the implementation of a new, paid ranger program could start small, operate seasonally and patrol only the most active regions of the park, scaling up as funds allowed. The program could also provide valuable job opportunities for neighborhood residents.

Keney Park

Northeast Hartford

Riverside Park Downtown Hartford

Google Earth

A half-mile from the Northeast Neighborhood, Hartford’s Riverside Park is a safe, inviting, public space. A key component of Riverside Park’s transformation into a safe, family-friendly destination has been its ranger program. Since 1998, the rangers have functioned as the eyes and ears of the entire 148-acre Riverfront Recapture Park system. They are not law enforcement officers, and they do not carry guns; their presence alone deters crime. Radios allow them to contact the police if assistance is needed. “It’s all about visibility; it isn’t so much what [the rangers] see; it’s that other people see them,” said Gary Dumas, the first manager of ranger services, explaining how safety in the parks improved after one year of running the program (Swift 1999).

Hartford’s Riverside Park is a half-mile from the Northeast Neighborhood.

Could a Ranger Program work for Keney Park?

The unpaid Junior Mounted Patrol rides through Keney Park on Sundays during the school year and 4-5 days a week during the summer. Like the Riverfront Rangers, they are not law enforcement officers but take a visual inventory of the park and report issues to the city or police. The Hartford Mounted Police do not regularly ride in the park, but will patrol when they aren’t stationed in other parts of the city (Kelly 2012).

Josh Mitchom

If funding could be secured through private or public partners, a ranger program could have a tremendous impact on Keney Park. The Ebony Horsewomen Junior Mounted Patrol and the Hartford Mounted Police already have a small presence within Keney Park, sharing a stable within its boundaries.

A wooded path winds through Riverside Park.

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Combating Illegal Dumping

In addition to its negative environmental impact, illegal dumping contributes to a perception of blight and lack of care within the neighborhood and Keney Park. Installing motion-triggered surveillance cameras is an Philadelphia, Dallas, effective method many cities San Francisco, and are using to fight illegal Boston have all used dumping. Cameras capture surveillance cameras images of violators and their to combat illegal vehicles, allowing prosecudumping. tion and deterring future dumping as potential violators become aware of the cameras’ presence. Costs of purchasing and installing surveillance cameras can be partially offset by the money saved in clean-up costs. The easily movable cameras can cost around $6,000 dollars a piece (CBS Atlanta). By educating residents about the benefits of green spaces, environmental education can play a positive role in stopping illegal dumping.

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford

Tires and household trash line the road in the empty lot at Clark and Naugatuck Streets. Garbage can be found in most parks and empty lots in the neighborhood.

Old furniture and garbage dumped near Gully Brook in Keney Park.

Ideabook


Appendix: Process

Participants included:

Nina Antonetti, Assistant Professor, Smith College, Landscape Studies Doug Brown AIA, Principal, Durkee Brown Viveiros Werenfels Architects Virginia Branch, Senior Associate, Durkee Brown Viveiros Werenfels Architects Steve Cecil AIA, ASLA, Principal, Cecil Group Planning and Design Jill Ker Conway, author Rex Fowler, Executive Director, Hartford Community Loan Fund and Northeast Hartford resident Mike Garner, photographer Jonas Maciunas, Senior Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer, City of Hartford Mary Rickel-Pelletier, Director of Park Watershed Inc. and member of the Hartford City Parks Commission

Conway School Faculty and Staff: Mollie Babize, Associate Director Ken Byrne, Professor Paul Cawood Hellmund, Director David Nordstrom, Associate Director

Michael Singer Studio: Michael Singer Josiah Simpson Jonathan Fogelson

© 2011 Michael Vaile Garner

On November 10, 2011, the Conway School facilitated a workshop with Community Solutions and the Michael Singer Studio to explore opportunities and challenges in the redevelopment of the Swift Factory. The all-day workshop brought together participants from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Community Solutions: Catherine Craig Sharon Gowen Rosanne Haggerty Nadine Maleh Sweta Patel

In the afternoon the workshop broke into small teams to explore ideas such as job creation, community building, city and regional connections and ideas for immediate action.

Conway School Graduate Students:

© 2011 Michael Vaile Garner

Seana Cullinan Laura Elizares Christina Gibson Shana Hostetter Molly Hutt Rachel Jackson Evelyn Lane Katrina Manis Jeanette O’Connor Jamie Pottern Christina Puerto Carlos Wright

Workshop participants brainstormed ideas in an open forum.

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford Appendix


Research for this report began in January of 2012 and included time spent observing and photographing the neighborhood and Keney Park, researching books and journals, and meeting with local stakeholders. A small stakeholder meeting was held on February 2, 2012 at the Hollander Building in downtown Hartford. Participants shared thoughts on how to improve the Northeast Neighborhood and created a neighborhood map of positive and negative features of the neighborhood.

Participants:

Nina Antonetti, Assistant Professor, Smith College, Landscape Studies Mary Rickel-Pelletier, Director of Park Watershed Inc. and member of the Hartford City Parks Commission Gabe Engeland, Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer, City of Hartford Rex Fowler, Executive Director, Hartford Community Loan Fund

Conway School Graduate Students: Seana Cullinan Rachel Jackson

Red and green stickers were used to ildentify the negative and positive features of the neighborhood at the stakeholder meeting in January, 2012.

Community Solutions: Nadia Lugo Sweta Patel

Friends of Keney Park: Henry Hester Jeffery Stewart

Additional communications were had through personal meetings, phone calls, and emails with representatives of Friends of Keney Park, the Hartford Catholic Worker, the Park Watershed Conservancy, Riverfront Recapture, Ebony Horsewomen, and the City of Hartford. More information can be found on page 54.

Appendix

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References “About Philadelphia Green.” Web. Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Apr. 2012. Web. <http://www.pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org>. Alexopoulos, John. The Nineteenth Century Parks of Hartford: A Legacy of the Nation. Hartford, Conn. (51 Wethersfield Ave., Hartford 06114): Hartford Architecture Conservancy, 1983. Print. “Atlanta to Test Surveillance Cameras at Illegal Tire Dumps.” American Securities. CBS Atlanta. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.american-securities.com/News/IntheNews/id=620>. Bixler, Robert, Cynthia L. Carlisle, William E. Hammitt & Myron F. Floyd “Observed Fears and Discomforts among Urban Students on Field Trips to Wildland Areas.” The Journal of Environmental Education (1994). Print. Carnegie Mellon. “Policy Recommendations: Greening Vacant Lots for Pittsburgh’s Sustainable Neighborhood Revitalization.” GTECH Strategies. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://gtechstrategies.org>. Carnegie Mellon. “Vacant to Vibrant: A Guide for Revitalizing Vacant Lots in Your Neighborhood. Greening Vacant Lots for Pittsburgh’s Sustainable Neighborhood Revitalization.” GTECH Strategies. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http:// gtechstrategies.org>. Cisneros, Henry. Defensible Space: Deterring Crime and Building Community. Rockville, Md: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1995. Print. “City Arts Brochure.” City Arts. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://cityartsdc.org/documents/CityArtsbrochure.pdf>. “Climate Leadership Academy Promising Practices in Green Job Creation: A Resource Guide for Local Leaders.” Institute for Sustainable Communities. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.iscvt.org>. “Community Data: Hartford Neighborhoods, Northeast.” HartfordInfo.org. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.hartfordinfo.org/>. “Community Solar Case Studies.” Northwest Community Energy. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://nwcommunityenergy. org/>. “Community Solutions | Creating Opportunities and Changing Lives.” Community Solutions. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://communitysolutions.org/>. “Connecticut Project Learning Tree Where We Teach and Learn Together…Naturally.” CT.gov Portal. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.ct.gov>. Crowe, Timothy, and Diane L. Zahm. “Crime Prevention through Environmental Design.” NAHB Land Development Magazine (1994). Print. Green Ribbon Task Force. “Hartford’s Parks Spring 2011” City of Hartford. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://planning. hartford.gov/docs/Plans/GRTF_Final_Report_3_18_11d.pdf> Green, Rick. “Distressed Graveyard Honors Our Past, Epitomizes Our Present.” Featured Articles From The Hartford Courant. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://articles.courant.com>. “Greencorps Chicago.” City of Chicago. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.cityofchicago.org>.

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford Appendix


Hartford Health Equity Index. Web. 17 Apr. 2012. <http://www.cadh.org/health-equity/health-equity-index.html>. “Hidden Benefits: The Impact of High School Graduation on Household Wealth.” Alliance for Excellent Education. Web. 01 Feb. 2007. <http://www.all4ed.org/files/hiddenbenefits.pdf>. “The iQuilt Plan.” The iQuilt Plan. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://theiquiltplan.org/>. Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. [New York]: Random House, 1961. Print. Kaplan, Rachel, Stephen Kaplan, and Robert L. Ryan. With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature. Washington, D.C.: Island, 1998. Print. Kuhl, Kaja. “From Brownfields to Greenfields: A Field Guide to Phytoremediation.” Urban Omnibus. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://urbanomnibus.net>. Kuo, F. E., and C. Sullivan. “Environment and Crime in the Inner City: Does Vegetation Reduce Crime?” Environment and Behavior 33.3 (2001): 343-67. Print. Leinbach, Ken. “It’s Kind of Fun to Do the Impossible” Children, Youth and Environments (2008). Print. Louv, Richard. “The Nature-Child Reunion Americans Must Address the Growing Need for Bonds between Nature and Children to Improve the Health and Well-being of Both.” National Wildlife. Print. Nielsen Claritas. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.claritas.com/sitereports/default.jsp>. “One City, One Plan POCD 2020.” Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://planning.hartford.gov/oneplan/pocd.aspx>. “Project Learning.” Project Learning Tree. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.plt.org>. “Project WILD.” Project WILD. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.projectwild.org>. “StepUP! Baltimore Initiatives / Power In Dirt.” City of Baltimore, Maryland. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://baltimorecity.gov>. Swift, Mike. Hartford Courant. “Rangers on Patrol to Keep Parks Safe and Clean.”Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://articles.courant.com>. “US Census Bureau.” Census Bureau Homepage. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. <http://www.census.gov>. Walden, Joan. Remembering the Old Neighborhood: A Compilation of Memories by and about Residents of Hartford, Connecticut’s North End Covering the Early and Middle Decades of the 20th Century. Hartford, CT: Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, 2009. Print. The West Indian Social Club of Hartford Inc. Homepage. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.westindiansocialclubinc. org>.

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Personal Communication Antonetti, Nina (Assistant Professor, Landscape Studies, Smith College, Northampton MA). Personal correspondenceemail, and meetings. January-March 2012 Engeland, Gabe (Office of the Chief Operating Officer, City of Hartford-Hartford, CT). Personal correspondenceemail, phone conversation and meetings. January-March 2012 Fowler, Rex (Executive Director, Hartford Community Loan Fund, Hartford, CT). Personal correspondence-emails and meetings. January-March 2012 Gowen, Sharon (Community Solutions, Hartford, CT.). Personal correspondence-meetings. January-February 2012. Hale, Jack (City of Hartford-Hartford, CT). Personal correspondence-email and a phone conversation. February 2012 Hester, Henry (Friends of Keney Park- Hartford, CT). Personal correspondence-email, phone conversations and meetings. January-March 2012 Kelly, James (Ebony Horsewomen Junior Mounted Patrol-Hartford, CT). Personal correspondence-phone conversation. March 2012 Lugo, Nadia (Community Solutions-Hartford, CT). Personal correspondence-email and meetings. January-March 2012 Morse, Peter (Riverfront Recapture, Inc.-Hartford, CT). Personal correspondence-email. March 2012 Quincy, Susan (Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection- Hartford, CT). Personal correspondence-email. March 2012 Rickel-Pelletier, Mary (Director of Park Watershed Inc. and member of the Hartford City Parks Commission, Hartford, CT). Personal correspondence-email, phone conversations and meetings. January-March 2012

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A Vision for a vibrant Northeast Hartford Appendix


© 2011 Michael Vaile Garner

Hartford’s Northeast Neighborhood faces significant challenges, but has many positive assets, such as historic Keney Park, local churches and schools, and the new Parker Memorial Community Center. Community Solutions is working with residents of Northeast Hartford to overcome the neighborhood’s economic and social challenges. Redevelopment of the historic M. Swift & Sons Goldleaf Factory and a neighborhood health initiative will be cornerstones of Community Solutions’ efforts in the area. A Vision for a Vibrant Northeast Hartford offers creative solutions for the neighborhood, addressing issues of connectivity, walkability, and safety through site design and community programs. The document presents a range of ideas that can contribute to a safer, healthier, and more vibrant Northeast Neighborhood.

The Conway School is the only institution of its kind in North America. Its focus is sustainable landscape planning and design. Each year, through its accredited, ten-month graduate program just eighteen to nineteen students from diverse backgrounds are immersed in a range of applied landscape studies, ranging in scale from residences to regions. Graduates go on to play significant professional roles in various aspects of landscape planning and design. www.csld.edu


A Vision for a Vibrant Northeast Hartford  

Hartford’s Northeast Neighborhood faces significant challenges, but has manypositive assets, such as historic Keney Park, local churches and...

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