Here's hoping for a collaboration of leadership that will bring a babbling brook back to Bushnell Park.
A year ago, such an idea was proposed by Charles Sheehan, chief executive officer of the Metropolitan District Commission, as an offshoot of the project to separate storm drains from sewers in Greater Hartford. Mr. Sheehan said he was inspired by The Courant's editorials advocating uncovering part of the Park River, buried beneath the city more than 60 years ago.
Mr. Sheehan's less complicated compromise envisions a three-pond water feature that would follow the course of the Park River as it once flowed through the park.
In Mr. Sheehan's imagination, the MDC would tap Gully Brook, which runs in from Bloomfield. Clean water would be diverted to Bushnell Park near the Corning Fountain into a new pond. It would then flow through a conduit under Trinity Street and surface to freshen the existing pond near the carousel before diving underground again to a third pond near the pump house.
This plan represents a practical and relatively inexpensive alternative to raising the Park River. The ponds would enhance the ambience of the city by producing a serene sanctuary from crowds and traffic. The project would restore what Mr. Sheehan calls "a legacy element" to the green space that is one of the city's central features. Ideally, the foundation of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, under which the Park River once flowed, could be exposed to bring back its original look.
The pond system could be configured so it does not disturb the present park features or create any flood control problems. It would serve as a functional part of the new drainage system. The cost, estimated at $1 million to $3 million, would be, well, a drop in the bucket. It would be covered under the MDC's multimillion-dollar sewer separation budget.
For this inventive plan to work, though, the mayor's office and the park's trustees have to be involved. This is their chance to do something special for the city with minimal cost.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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