Ideas for Improving Hartford

On this week’s Face the State we are talking about ways to improve Hartford.  Your capital city is in the middle of a billion dollar renaissance but the city is still plagued by some crime-ridden neighborhoods, empty storefronts, and companies leaving for the suburbs.

 This Sunday we have three local figures in the city of Hartford ..but they are not elected officials.

Ben Jensen, an attorney , Susie Hatch, a realtor, and Phil Schonberger, a developer.  We would like to hear from you.

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11 replies »

  1. Schonbergers contempt for small representative democracy, as realized by Connecticuts towns, is a sad example of a failed marxist mentality. Small towns allow representation in governments, large bureaucracies as envisioned by the regionalists assure less participation, less representation, more waste, less reponsive government, lower standards of life. Schonbergers vision is dangerous and can only result in less efficient government and more waste. Regionalists must be vigourously opposed and anachronism like Schonberger must be exposed for what they are – the new marxists who will destroy the small towns which they hold in contempt.


  2. Hi, I live in New Haven where we do elect our alderpersons from our neighborhood. I didn’t realize this system was not used universally by the big cities in CT. Our system works beautifully. There is a natural check on “pork barrelling” and a wide spread of politics overall. New Haven is moving forward because of this system. My area, Fair Haven, is pioneering traffic calming, and other programs because of my alderperson.



  3. Hi Dennis,

    Improving Hartford depends on the key question, “Whose Hartford is it?” When considering the interests of those who visit or work here, the picture of a new Hartford would be one thing. However, when considering the interests of those who live here, one would get a very different design. I believe the best answer is hidden in the middle of those often different interests.

    Hartford can be the city to meet the commercial, entertainment and social interests currently not provided by the boring little towns surrounding Hartford. At the same time, it can become an economic engine to eliminate poverty which is THE culprit of poor social choices made by several Hartford residents.

    After spending nearly a billion in downtown development and are well on the way towards a half billion in school construction, we still fear Hartford.

    The first thing we have to do is SET THE TABLE right; we must make sure that all stakeholders are at the table with equal voice in this discussion.

    We must realize that Hartford is not and never will be a New York or a Boston. Our greatest asset is diversity. We are the only city that can bring you around the world without leving the city limits.


    We need to go back to investing in community organizing where we can work to change the thinking of people in impoverished communities in order to affect behavior.

    There is so much to say here…I challenge you to do a show where community voices are present on Face The State.


  4. Greetings Dennis,

    I am watching the program right now and I have to admit I am enraged by the panel placing the blame on the surrounding towns not taking an initiative in their capital city.

    The panel assembled for this program I do not feel is really an accurate representation of how most Hartford residents think or act. I also do not believe for a moment that any of these people “really” feel safe in Downtown Hartford.

    I worked downtown for a short time, and I’ve gone there on Saturday nights. I’ve watched people get mugged, and assaulted and been one of the few to step in.

    Hartford is not safe, Hartford is a cesspool, created by crooked politicians and a police force that is so inept that the State police must bail them out yearly when the summer heat comes and violence spikes.

    The fact of the matter is Hartford will never succeed as a capital city until it’s people and it’s politics change. The problem is the cycle of low income families who take no pride in what they have, and expect that they deserve better after they destroy what they are given.

    It’s further acerbated by the fact a former gang member is the mayor of Hartford and has managed to gain control of every major post in Hartford, allowing for no other position to be heard.

    I would love to help the city of Hartford rebuild and become something as a state resident I could be proud of again, I will however be damned if I’m going to sink my hard earned money into improving Hartford, only to watch people ruin it in a short period of time.

    If Hartford is ever to become an emerald city, they are going to have to fix their problems within before their citizens cast their blame on the citizens beyond their walls. I will not tolerate a bunch of arrogant buffoons blaming the surrounding communities and residents for the problem in Hartford.



  5. I’ve always believed in the potential of Hartford, but I believe one of the problems for the City of Hartford is the struggle to accommodate the different age groups. Hartford has always been a city for older generations, this becomes evident by the types of activities and the close time of businesses. I’ve invited friends to come and visit with me in the City of Hartford, but they said there is not enough to do in Hartford without having to drive outside of the town, and the other problem is bars, clubs and other places close at 2am. I don’t think many realize how much of an issue that is. At 2am in the morning, many of the people that venture out are still full of energy and not ready to go home, therefore they loitter around town getting into trouble and bringing negative attention to the city.

    Another issue is the cost to live in the city. It was a dream of mine, but upon college graduation I realize that I was unable to buy property and maintain a lifestyle due to property tax, insurance cost etc.

    I still work, play, volunteer and am an active part of downtown Hartford, just as a commuter.

    Hartford is on it’s up and up, if we can get more of the younger generations involved in planning, government and decision-makings, Hartford and serve all.

    There are many like myself who loves Hartford and wants to help in the improvement, but often feel like we don’t have a voice, if that can be improved, Hartford will be well on its way.

    Thank you


  6. I found the face the state program not addressing the real issues that Hartford needs to deal with. None of the panelists represented minority, should I say Majority, residents. No discussion of the changes in approach to fund the needs which Hartford obviously needs. Current programs will not achieve the goals we need to meet. We need to look to changing state law to allow innovative investment and programs to make Hartford the gem we know it can be. The status quo will not do that. As Development engineer who has worked nationally I have seen what can happen when the Private sector and the state get together on the same page. This can happen and we should target that as a goal.


  7. Hi Dennis,

    First, let me disclose that I am Larry Charles, a Democratic candidate for State Representative in Hartford’s 5th Assembly District running againt one candidate who is under grand jury investigation for corruption and the other candidate who is very hard pressed to show how condions in Hartford have been impacted by the 16 years of service as our current state representative.

    Bottom line, planning for a better Hartford should include the interests of all of us, urban and suburban.

    For generations, many of the planning processes for Hartford have not balanced all interests and they’ve always yielded one-demensional plans for the revitalization of a complex city with little or worsening impacts.

    A billion dollars in downtown development and people are still afraid to visit our city; a half-billion in school construction and our schools still are failing our children. It is not about the brick and mortar! It is all about CHANGING THE THINKING of our people in order to affect their behavior and thereby bring about a better quality of life for all of us.

    Addressing poverty in Hartford must become our chief public policy at all levels of government. Additionally, there is very serious work that must be done with the residents of Hartford to make Hartford a city that not only feels safe but in fact IS SAFE.

    A thinking that WE must take ownership of our own children and what we allow them to do MUST become the theme in our homes. There is no greater asset to deploy against crime & violence than an organized and committed community.

    To improve Hartford, we need a new partnership between our governments and our community; we need to transform the role of government to become facilitators to community-owned and community controlled processes. Get away from government task forces, think tanks and other gimmicks that moves responsibility for social problems away from parents and community institutions giving it to disconnected bureaucrats. Without laying off a single government worker, we can substantially reduce the cost of government and increase effectiveness at the same time by trying this approach to governing.

    We have to get to a new thinking about who is responsibile for what OUR children do and who is responsible for what happens in our community. When a child gets in trouble, who should we blame first, the police chief, the mayor, the governor or the parents? Personal responsibility and accountability says, IT’S ON US!

    To improve Hartford, there absolutely must be a major investment in neighborhood driven solutions that unlock the true flavors of Hartford’s rich and multiple cultures. Except Hartford, no other city in this region has as great a capacity to create wonderful diversity in music, art, food and culture.

    Our cultural diversity is our greatest strength and can serve as the foundation of a strong tourism market targeting residents of the region and then nationally. This approach can create an economic engine to revitalize our city and address poverty in a significant way too.

    To improve Hartford, I would also combine the marketing of our area meseum, cultural and science centers to promote the exciting educational and entertaining experiences they offer in Hartford as a destination city.

    I would then rezone the Union Station area to an entertainment zone creating NEW ORLEANS EAST as a destination for area and regional visitors. As a native of New Orleans, I’d love to see a “Lil Taste of New Orleans” in Hartford.

    The first thing needed to improve Hartford is to SET THE TABLE RIGHT; if you do that and allow free discussions among all stakeholders–urban and suburan–we will get a plan for a better Hartford for ALL of us to LIVE, WORK AND PLAY.

    Finally, WSFB, you should follow this advice when assembling panels to discuss the ideas for improving Hartford.


  8. I came to Hartford in 1985 from Georgia. I remember Sage Allen, G. Fox, JJ Newbury. It was before they built State House Square and took away the street the buses were on there. I remember the Civic Center with all the stores. I was so fascinated by all that was downtown. Working downtown, if I needed clothes, there were places to go that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Now, all these apartments going up downtown don’t seem to be for middle class people or the people who used to call downtown their home. It makes me want to cry to see all that history just gone and people trying to make Hartford something it isn’t. With companies wanting to get out of Hartford, why would anyone want to live downtown? I don’t see any decent clothing stores or even a grocery store. I won’t even get into the parking issues – maybe that will be another discussion on that.


  9. If Hartford is to ever improve people need to come together in small ways to make a difference. I livein Wethersfield but recently led a fundraising effort to recognize a long-forgotten piece of Hartford history, the old Hartford Base Ball Grounds, 1874-1876. Myself and about a dozen other CT residents came together, donated the funds to buy a bronze plaque, and will dedicate it on the site of the old ballfield on July 26th. It is a small thing but it is taking pride in Hartford’s history and preserving it for generations to come. The plaque/ballfield will be part of the Coltsville tour when the site is granted National Park status. If Hartford is ever going to rebound it won’t be because of Scienes Centers, Convention Centers and over-priced housing. It will be because everyday people recognize its place in the past, present and future and actullay do sometime about, not wait for others, but roll up their sleeves and make it happen as we did for the old ballfield.


  10. Hi Dennis,

    Hope its not too late to chime in on this.
    I’ve founded an organization that IS making Hartford better.
    Its The Greater Hartford Community of Promise (GHCOP).
    We are the local affiliate of America’s Promise (www.americaspromise.org), which was founded in 1997 by (Ret) Gen. Colin Powell.

    GHCOP is helping to change Hartford by promoting Social Capital. That is – we are working to get more people in each neighborhood to come to know their neighbors with the hope that if they personally know the person they may be having a dispute with, they may settle it in a civil manner rather resorting to violence.

    We are organizing a National Neighborhood Day event with an organization called OurCommons.us on Sunday September 21, 2008. Current plans are to hold such an event in each of Hartford’s 18 neighborhoods, and as many of the surrounding towns as possible.

    “I have a dream…” that one day each of Hartford’s neighborhoods will use their park facillities to host a group of citizens from a surburban town and that each town so hosted will reciprocate and host that same neighborhood in one of its own parks.

    There’s a reason for the name Greater Hartford Community of Promise; its to get the citizens of the regional community to come together to address the needs of all.
    Remember the old addage: TEAM – Together Everyone Accomplishes More.


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