$4.5M in funding headed to Hartford
A look at projects, groups that will benefit from state dollars earmarked for city improvements
HARTFORD — The city, the Capital Region Development Authority and a number of Hartford nonprofits are among the beneficiaries of the latest round of hundreds of million of dollars in funding on the State Bond Commission agenda.
Speaker of the House Matt Ritter, D-hartford, said the city will receive a total of $4.5 million for brownfield remediation, the Hartline linear park project and property improvements on Magnolia and Irving streets. The Bond Commission meets Friday.
Ritter said the $2 million set for brownfield remediation is not designated for any specific property, but is instead at Hartford’s discretion to spend.
“It’s left open to the city to figure out,” Ritter said. “Sometimes we are able to earmark some properties, but I think what this will give the city some flexibility for is as they put together larger developments, this will be helpful, especially around Homestead Avenue, for example. … I think this money will help them put some bigger stuff together. … I trust them and their development team to put it to good use.”
The $1.5 million set aside for the Hartline project will go toward connecting a walking and bike trail between the city and Bloomfield.
“It’s a project not a lot of people know about,” Ritter said. “They have a large area to walk and bike. These are not uncommon in other towns, and it’s really exciting. It’s going to give people a safe place to do recreation, to travel, to get back and forth. It’s a classic example of where I think state funding is really critical.
“This is truly a public infrastructure improvement project that’s going to help multiple towns. It’s going to help people in Bloomfield and Hartford, West Hartford. It’s going to be a great project when it’s done.”
Other major funding the city will receive is $1 million for improvements in the heart of the Albany Avenue area.
“That used to be a police station, a PAL satellite office with a basketball court,” Ritter said. “It has sat there for a very long time.”
Ritter said the city approached him with a request for funding to improve that parcel.
“This might be the bridge or gap funding that allows them to begin to figure out what to do with that parcel,” he said. “The NRZ has been all over that parcel for a very long time. I’m very happy to see that happen. It’s at a key place on Albany Avenue, and it’s time to fix that up.”
Ritter noted that the redevelopment of Albany Avenue “is coming together” and the property at Magnolia and Irving streets is “one of the missing links” that needed some additional funding.
Mayor Luke Bronin lauded the city’s legislative delegation and the governor for securing the funds for such important projects.
“I’m grateful to Speaker Ritter, our entire legislative delegation, and Gov. [Ned] Lamont for their support of these investments in our community,” Bronin said. “These funds will help us to move some important community priorities forward — and they make a big difference.”
Included in the CRDA funding is $5.5 million for redevelopment of the former Fuller Brush
Co. factory in north Hartford into new housing units, which the city sees as critical to neighborhood revitalization.
“A classic example of a project that would not work without some gap financing,” Ritter said. “What the delegation has been trying to do with the CRDA over the years is to draw them into the neighborhoods. We’re all about downtown … but we want to draw them further into the city and the residential areas beyond downtown.”
In addition, the Connecticut Science Center would receive $10 million for renovations and technology upgrades, Ritter said.
The improvements, Ritter said, are critical, but not the kind that would be easy, if possible at all, to fundraise for, such as HVAC units and elevator renovations.
“They have ongoing infrastructure improvements,” Ritter said. “This is a state-built facility. So, in my mind it’s no different than a courthouse or a dorm at [a state college]. … This is paying for the stuff everyone assumes is working and they’ve got to upgrade the stuff every three or four years.”
City-based nonprofits that are slated to receive grants include the Elizabeth Park Conservancy ($1 million), Northside Neighborhood Alliance ($500,000), the Albany Avenue location of the YMCA of Greater Hartford ($500,000) and the Northwest location of the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford ($500,000).
“Each grant will help these community-based organizations move their important mission forward, which will not only enhance the quality of life in the neighborhoods they are located, but benefit all residents throughout the city,” Ritter said. “These nonprofits have a proven track record of improving the lives of the people they serve.”
The Hartford-based projects are part of hundreds of millions of dollars in spending that the State Bond Commission is expected to officially approve Friday.