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Hartford Applies For State Grant To Create Nature Trail At Batterson Park

Jenna Carlesso

May 07, 2010

A winding trail that stretches for half a mile with a picturesque view of a pond. A camping ground where children can pitch tents and take in the outdoors.

That is city officials' vision for the future of Batterson Park, a Hartford-owned property nestled largely in Farmington. The city on Monday applied for a $214,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection that would help create a nature trail and small overnight campground at the park on Batterson Park Road.

"We own and operate it, and we should just make it the best place possible for people who visit both from Hartford and outside of Hartford," city council President Pedro Segarra said. The council last week voted in favor of applying for the grant.

The funding would require a 35 percent match by the city, but the match could be made in the form of services such as construction and brush clearing instead of money, said Kevin Burnham, director of the city's public works department. The project would take three to five months to complete, depending on when the funding becomes available, he said.

Planners envision the trail being blazed near the park's pond. The campground would take up half an acre at the west end of the park.

David Stygar, an environmental analyst for the DEP, said the department probably will make a decision on whether to award the grant by fall.

Although advocates of the project hope to attract more visitors with the trail and campground, some said there is also a growing concern over improving all of Hartford's parks.

Last summer, some park-goers complained of garbage collecting along the edge of the pond at Batterson. Tony Mancini, whose Farmington neighborhood abuts the park, said at one point that he had been e-mailing Hartford officials about the litter for months with no response.

"They're not proactive," he said Thursday. "The only reason they do anything is because people like me call the city and complain. I'm all for the [new] development, but they've got to maintain it."

Burnham said recently that after hearing of the complaints, efforts were made to clean up leaves at the park and repair or remove worn picnic tables and grills. A public works employee stops by the park at least once a week to help with upkeep, he added.

If awarded the money for a trail and campground, Burnham said, public works employees would closely monitor the grounds to ensure cleanliness.

"Certainly we'll have to check in on that to make sure that it's being well-maintained," he said.

If more visitors translates into more littering, "we would shift resources accordingly" to keep the park clean, Burnham said.

Segarra said he hopes the additions would draw more Hartford residents to Batterson.

"I think people from Hartford would be more likely to venture out and enjoy the park," he said.

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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