The State Bonds Commission met on Friday July 23 and approved funds to be used for the City of West Hartford’s creation of a new Elmwood Community Center.
By Ronni Newton
Connecticut moved away from the debt regime previously imposed by Governor Ned Lamont and, at a State Bond Commission meeting on Friday, July 23, approved $ 1 billion in bonding for various projects, including the the City of West Hartford created a new Elmwood Community Center at 100 Mayflower Street, the site of the former St. Brigid School.
Citing the strategic location of the vacant St. Brigid School property and the ability not only to meet a current need, but also to realize a vision for the future, and upon completion of due diligence, the West Hartford City Council voted on July 13 to buy the 8.5-acre plot at 100 Mayflower Street for $ 3 million. The city had already made a down payment of $ 50,000 for the property and performed a due diligence after entering into a purchase contract in March.
The city has been interested in the property for several reasons, including its location next to Beachland Park and the possibility of constructing a more sustainable and energy efficient building for the current programming which takes place in the centennial Elmwood Community Center building and branch. Faxon. Library, as well as for future needs.
In addition to expanding and improving programs and services for seniors and adolescents, council members noted that the site could provide space for a cultural center for the city – a convenience that is lacking.
City officials worked with the legislative delegation to get the project added to the Bond Commission agenda. This is a “plug-and-play community project,” State Representative Kate Farrar (D-20th) told We-Ha.com, expressing optimism ahead of the approval vote.
The property is in the district represented by Farrar, and she said the Bond Commission’s $ 2.5 million would complement the city’s willingness to spend funds on the project as well. The City’s contribution for the acquisition of the property will be $ 500,000.
State and city officials expressed appreciation for the Bond Commission approval on Friday and noted the value of the project.
“While the current Elmwood Community Center is a valuable space in our community, the age and maintenance of the building does not meet current needs,” said Farrar. “This state funding will allow the city to finalize the purchase and lay the foundations for a new community center that will improve services in a state-of-the-art facility. I am proud that this once in a generation opportunity is coming to our neighborhood of Elmwood.
Mayor Shari Cantor said at the July 13 city council meeting that the purchase of the property will benefit the community for the next 50 years. The project, she said, is “not for yesterday … not for today, but really for tomorrow”.
In a statement Friday, Cantor said: “We are very grateful for the state’s support for the purchase of this strategic property in what we believe is a project to transform a visionary cultural and community center for our diverse community. and dynamic. “
Following the acquisition of the property, which should be finalized in August, the city will engage in a community process to determine the programming that will be hosted on the site, and will also carry out a feasibility study and a contract for the services of pre-construction. West Hartford City Manager Matt Hart says it is likely that most, if not all, of the current building will need to be demolished.
“I would like to thank the members of our state delegation for moving this important project forward,” Hart said. “The future Elmwood Community Center will allow the city to better serve our residents in a newer, more environmentally friendly facility. This project will also give us the opportunity to consolidate some of our assets into a single building, thus reducing operating costs in the long term. We greatly appreciate the state’s support for this unique opportunity.
The Bond Commission also approved $ 150,000 forsign changes / replacement at the intersection of Highway 44 / Highway 218 in West Hartford – also known as the intersection of North Main Street and Albany Avenue in Bishops Corner.
“I am delighted that West Hartford is receiving the funding it deserves through the Elmwood Community Center and also for the replacement of the traffic lights at the intersection of Highway 44/218,” said the state representative. Jillian Gilchrest (D-18th), whose district includes the intersection. . “The safety of our residents is one of my top priorities as a representative of the West Hartford community and this new signal is essential. “
Gilchrest also emphasized the importance of community engagement in recovery from the pandemic and the value of the Elmwood Community Center as a resource for the entire community.
“When the pandemic hit, not being able to get to a place like the Elmwood Community Center was difficult for many families, and it showed how much we all rely on him as a gathering place for our community,” said the state representative. Tammy Exum (D-19th). “As we get back to normal, we owe it to our community to ensure that the center is modernized to meet the growing needs of our neighbors for years to come. I am very grateful to the State Bond Commission for recognizing the importance of this pillar of the community.
State Senator Derek Slap also praised the Elmwood Community Center project.
“West Hartford is always eager to move forward, and this is one of those opportunities to remake a community center, to offer better programs to our residents, to save money on services. public and free up space in the city for another use. Oh, and the state covers 75 percent of the cost. It really is a great opportunity, ”he said.
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