Wilting Patience with Officials on Flower Street Ordeal
By Kerri Provost
April 18, 2013
It’s almost time for another chapter in the ongoing fight for transparency and respect from the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
The State entity has been striving to close Flower Street — a quiet side street that serves as a safe connection between Asylum and Capitol for cyclists and pedestrians — to all traffic. Once construction on CTfastrak began, the road was sealed off to motorized vehicles. Though claiming that the desire to close the street is for safety reasons, the CT DOT, in various conversations, has straight out said that there is no data to back these claims. Activists seeking to keep the road open have speculated that there are other reasons and that this fight has nothing to do with the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
Closing this street entirely would go against the stated goals of Hartford’s One City, One Plan — Plan of Conservation and Development.
Residents, stakeholders, and neighborhood organizations have not given silent consent. There have been attempts to be heard at a DOT hearing, and when voices seemed ignored there, wherever the DOT would show up. The next step was to be fighting it out, again, at a Reconsideration Hearing requested by the DOT.
The DOT was petitioning itself to spread out the Reconsideration Hearing (with itself) over several days in early April. This was stalled, pushing the new Reconsideration Hearing into May.
None of these hearings –the outcomes of which most directly impact Hartford’s Asylum Hill and Frog Hollow neighborhoods — have been held in Hartford, where residents and stakeholders could more easily attend. Opponents of the Flower Street closure have viewed this entire process as being filled with attempts to suppress public engagement, from the Newington-based hearings, to multiple hearings, to refusing to grant “intervenor” status at these hearings.
Now, we have learned that the DOT has been meeting with the City of Hartford about the Flower Street matter. The City had been challenging the DOT during this process, but those closely involved in this ordeal have seemed less optimistic about the nature of these closed door meetings. The expectation from those fighting the closure is that some “agreement” has been reached between the City and the State that would render moot the Reconsideration Hearing in May.
On Thursday, April 25 at 5pm the DOT and City of Hartford will be having a public meeting at the Studio at Billings Forge to discuss the latest on the Flower Street closure(s). Because it is public, anybody can show up.
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/.