Sometimes controversy leads to surprisingly good outcomes. This could happen with the infamous corner of Farmington Avenue and Broad Street, the rejected site of the Pathways to Technology magnet school.
Because of traffic and other concerns, no school will be built there. So far, there have been no plans for anything else worthwhile.
Some day, when the roads are fixed, the site will be commercially developed. A residence hotel might make sense there.
But in the meantime, which could be five years or more, how about using the site for a monument to the veterans of Hartford, especially those who fought in World War II and Korea?
The idea came from veterans who frequent Allegros, the famous Italian diner on Franklin Avenue. They point out that Hartford has no monument to the GIs who fought World War II, nor for those who fought the Korean War.
The plan for the 2–-acre parcel is simple - a large piece of granite appropriately inscribed surrounded by a few benches with low-lying shrubs (I like blueberries for their yearlong color). Estimates are that 10 million people pass the site every year, and thousands look out on it from nearby buildings.
Yes, there are lots of questions and details. Who will pay? What is transcribed? Who gets the modest responsibility for maintenance? But a city that can build a convention center on time and on budget certainly can figure it out. All we really need is the desire to do it and, from many conversations, the reaction has been positive.
Estimates of cost range up to $50,000, with most of the cost in materials. The Alexander Goldfarb Trust and Knox Parks put up a rudimentary pocket park on the site for less than that. Perhaps both could be involved again, and hopefully a few other foundations and a couple of corporate neighbors could kick in. Maybe our state legislators, who would benefit from the view, could find a few thousand in our $800 million surplus for our veterans.
The Greater Hartford Arts Council has great connections with artists who have done similar projects. Darrell Petit, a sculptor from Branford who just completed a WWII monument on the Guilford Green, viewed the Broad Street site and said it offers a perfect scale for a veterans monument.
If there were a consensus to move ahead, a small committee could begin work on approvals and fundraising. Without putting too fine a point on it, the flags of our fathers and grandfathers who fought World War II and Korea are being furled. This may be the last chance to say thank you to the greatest generation.
So, who knows? Maybe out of all this will come something we all are proud of.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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