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Don't Charge For City Parks

ELIZABETH PARK The city promised us a rose garden

Hartford Courant

February 05, 2010

Hartford has a projected $40 million shortfall to make up next year, so it is incumbent on city leaders to consider an array of options for new revenues and spending cuts.

But once the ideas are on the table, it's imperative that the bad ones be discarded. Into that heap of chaff should go the idea of charging admission to Elizabeth Park.

This notion was raised at a recent budget workshop. In a word, no. Charging admission to one of the most beautiful urban parks in New England is wrong on many levels it's kind of like charging to watch the sun rise.

The park, donated by industrialist Charles Pond to honor his wife, Elizabeth, has been free to the public for more than 100 years.

To charge admission, the city would probably have to build a fence around the sprawling 102-acre park, a major expense. The city could charge for parking, but that probably would force many visitors onto neighborhood streets.

Also, the park is largely supported by an excellent nonprofit, The Friends of Elizabeth Park. To charge admission would play havoc with fundraising, and could mean a net loss of revenues.

City councilman Matt Ritter said he will submit a resolution to the council Monday to keep all city parks free to all visitors. Excellent idea.

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.
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