Historic Church Fights For Right To Remain On Its Street

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As the Capital City continues efforts to attract new visitors, part of its plan is stirring some controversy.

A historic church is fighting the city’s attempt to relocate its entire street.

The City of Hartford’s “iQuilt” Program is a multipart plan to generate new interest in Connecticut’s capital city through a series of revitalization projects, one of which would create connectivity between downtown and the neighborhoods via green walkways from the river to the train station.

“This is a key component of the iQuilt plan. It’s part of the major greenway,” says Hartford’s Director of Development Thomas Deller.

He’s describing the plan to create a “greenway” that leads to Bushnell Park from Main Street, a welcoming green-space gateway with a view of the Capitol.

It’s received widespread support, except from the neighborhood’s oldest neighbor: Center Church.

“They really don’t need to move this street in order to achieve everything they want to do in this area,” says Attorney Thom Page, representing the church.

Page says the project will cost nearly $1 million, lead to traffic problems and create difficulties for parishioners.

“They use this area to drop off the food and the supplies, to get our ministries done, so it does affect the way we do our ministries on a daily basis here,” says Rev. Damaris Whittaker.

After several church-goers spoke against the plan at last week’s city council meeting, a scheduled vote was postponed Monday night, so the topic can be discussed further in committee meetings.

Rev. Whittaker says she wants the green space, just not at her church’s front door.

Deller, meanwhile, says this opposition is coming rather late, now four years into the plan, but says he will try to work with the church toward a compromise.

“I will continue to adjust this plan as best I can to meet their concerns, but ultimately what’s good for the city has to triumph over the minority,” says Deller.

The first step in all of this is for the city to purchase 199 square feet of property for an easement along the south side of Gold Street.

But that’s on hold until the council continues its review of everyone’s concerns.

Some board members from the Bushnell Towers condos have also expressed displeasure with the street-shifting plan.

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