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New Walk To Link Bridge, Riverside Park

September 8, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer

Those wanting to walk along the Connecticut River from the Bulkeley Bridge to the boathouse at Riverside Park in Hartford soon will have a chance to do so, as work has begun on the $4.9 million project to connect the two, officials said Wednesday.

The project is the latest phase of construction by Riverfront Recapture Inc., a nonprofit organization working on a park system on the Hartford and East Hartford sides of the river.

"This is the link that will reconnect downtown Hartford with Riverside Park," said Joseph R. Marfuggi, president and CEO of Riverfront Recapture. He said the park and its connection to the bridge will be tailored to meet the needs of those with disabilities as well as the needs of the city's emergency vehicles. "We are creating a park system that is fully accessible to everybody," Marfuggi said.

Construction on the latest phase began over the past two weeks, bringing a 12-foot-wide walkway to an area where the dike that protects the city meets the banks of the Connecticut River, Marfuggi said. The dike is also being reinforced in the process, Marfuggi said.

The project includes park improvements, from new trees to light poles and benches, he said. Of the $4.9 million, $3.9 million is for construction. The remaining $1 million was for design and review. The project is funded with a combination of state and federal money.

"This project would never have gotten off the ground if people had said, 'We need to do this all at once,' " Marfuggi said of Riverfront Recapture - which includes completed projects at Charter Oak Landing, Riverfront Plaza, Riverside Park and Great River Park in East Hartford. "It needed to happen in an incremental progress over a long period of time. That's what's happening, and that's what's paying off."

Riverside Park originally was intended as an outdoor living room for the tenement residents of late 19th-century Hartford, Marfuggi said. "But that connection was lost as the dikes were built and the highway was built," he said. "What we're trying to do is reconnect parts of the city with the river."

In 2003, Riverwalk Downtown - the space between the Bulkeley Bridge and the Founders Bridge - was completed, Marfuggi said.

The current work on the section of the park between the Bulkeley Bridge and Riverside Park could be done by this time next year, Marfuggi said.

Kenneth R. Kahn, executive director of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, called the project and its progress "a glorious opportunity for hikers, bikers, picnickers, fishermen, boaters, event-goers, festival-goers, sightseers, and people who love sculpture."

Kahn said his council, in cooperation with Riverfront Recapture and Lincoln Financial Group, is working on a sculpture walk that would have roughly 15 pieces distributed throughout the park system.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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