HARTFORD— Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra delivered his annual state of the city address Monday night, declaring Hartford is a city on the rebound.
Segarra highlighted a lower homicide rate and a number of investments being made in Hartford’s neighborhoods, including the groundbreaking for a $56 million minor league baseball stadium, as evidence for the rise.
“There is so much progress, so much change, so much happening in our city right now,” said Segarra.
Segarra focused on long-term investments in all corners of the city. Here are just some of the plans he mentioned:
- $700,000 to rehabilitate the Goodwin Park Golf Course in the South End
- $68 million toward future renovations at the M.L. King School in north Hartford
- A more than $12 million investment in Coltsville, which recently gained congressional approval to become a national historical park
- More than $10 million in improvements to Keney Park
- A $100 million overhaul of Weaver High School
- The construction of new, affordable housing in Nelton Court
"Hartford is winning. I look forward to continuing to win well into the future,” Segarra said.
Segarra was upfront about some challenges, including a nearly $50 million budget gap the city is trying to close. He said the city calculated it will be getting $5.1 million less in state aid, adding to the city’s fiscal woes.
“We could have raised taxes or slashed spending discriminately, but we didn't do either, instead we made bold decisions,” Segarra said. The key decision was the planing of the massive downtown north development project--which will include a new baseball stadium, apartments and a brewery.
John Gale, a lawyer and fellow Democrat who also is running for mayor, contended that Segarra's talk of boosting neighborhoods fell flat. “Mayor Segarra is yet again playing catch-up by proposing a community benefits policy after the city of Hartford has already executed one of its largest contracts to build the Downtown Stadium,” Gale said.
Segarra also announced he would propose a "community benefits policy" ensuring big construction projects in Hartford will benefit the residents and neighborhoods in the city.
Council member Larry Deutsch says this the program could mean more jobs for city residents. “A lot of pressure has led to community benefit agreements. There's a lot more to go to see how we can benefit our people,” Deutsch said.
Mayoral candidate Luke Bronin, the former general counsel for Gov. Dan Malloy, was critical of Segarra’s remarks, arguing there was a “disconnect between the rhetoric and the realty residents experience around Hartford every day.”
“Nelton Court has been plagued by delay and poor implementation, Keney Park’s Golf Course should never have been able to fall into ruin. And two years ago, the mayor promised streetscape improvements on Albany Avenue — but then didn’t think or talk about it again, until election time,” Bronin said.
Segrra also touched on what he called "one of the most important investments of all" — a 53 percent decline in homicides in the city's North End since 2011. "We can unequivocally confirm that our city is safer now than it has been in decades," Segarra said. “That is really the anchor of our progress."