December 6, 2005
Hartford Courant Editorial
Gov. M. Jodi Rell was greeted warmly during a trip to Park Street on Thursday. Considering her mission was to deliver more funding for the ongoing improvement of that bustling Latino commercial strip, it was little surprise.
Without the fanfare of flashing lights and the security detail that used to pave the way for her predecessor, Ms. Rell visited the offices of the Spanish American Merchants Association to announce a grant of $1 million for Phase II of the Park Street Streetscape Project.
The grant, which is subject to the approval of the State Bond Commission when it meets Friday, is the first installment of what Latino leaders hope will be a $4 million appropriation. City officials, who will manage the money, are expected to use it to install on-street parking meters, make facade improvements to the street's storefronts and mount 40 surveillance cameras to deter theft, vandalism and drug dealing.
Earlier this fall, Ms. Rell announced state approval of a $3.6 million loan to help with the rehabilitation of 13 vacant buildings for rental housing along Zion Street in the Frog Hollow neighborhood that surrounds Park Street. When finished, the Zion Street project will have eliminated the last major pocket of blight in the area.
Ms. Rell made a point of saying that she felt comfortable about the grant after seeing what the merchants have done to Park Street already. Indeed, although there is still work to be done on Phase I, the trees, decorative sidewalks and ornamental street lighting that have been put in so far give Park Street the look of a major commercial boulevard. At night, the new streetlights project a warmer, welcoming feeling to the street.
Ms. Rell's announcement was greeted with extensive praise from the merchants and local leaders who attended the event. Their task is to keep the street's growing retail base and upward momentum going.