One might ask whose turf is allegedly being destroyed by the casual Ultimate Frisbee and soccer games that are being held in Bushnell Park.
Though this is not the first time the City has cracked down on such usage — over five years ago I witnessed individuals merely kicking a ball around, without cleats or a net, get threatened with arrest there — the pressure seems to have interesting timing.
In nine days, EnvisionFest will descend upon Downtown, including Bushnell Park. Several tents and stages, large and small, are slated to be erected in Bushnell Park. Beyond the impact of the tents and stages themselves, there will no doubt be trucks driven all over the lawn, as happens every time there is an event held in the park.
In October, the tents and stages set up for the Hartford Marathon will do similar damage to the lawn that the Department of Public Works is presumably trying to preserve.
It is not uncommon for the Hartford police to ride horses through the park — an activity which impacts the grass, though the horses at least have the decency to fertilize the lawn. More routinely, the State Capitol Police drive their vehicles over the edges of the sidewalks, sometimes leaving the hard surface entirely. Police vehicles have been spotted parked on Bushnell Park’s lawn. None of these activities have been personally witnessed when the police have been actively in pursuit of a criminal.
Just as regularly, vehicles from the Department of Public Works leave the sidewalk, also wearing down and leaving ruts in the lawn. Likewise, vehicles associated with the carousel are parked on an area where grass no longer grows due to inappropriate usage.
What has not been mentioned in all the fuss over the apparent ban on fun active recreation in Bushnell Park is that the iQuilt Plan — embraced by many — has been pushing for this all along. In its Greenwalk Master Plan/Bushnell Park Master Plan, “passive recreation” is being esteemed over all else. Active recreation is only encouraged when it is tied to creating revenue.
The iQuilt Plan Pocket Guide (Jan 2012) presents a visual of its intentions for the end of the park where most casual, pickup games are held:
Is destruction of turf the issue, or is it only one when not tied to creation of revenue or the programming envisioned by the iQuilt Plan?
Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.