Thank you to everyone who attended the August 2018 Design Committee meeting. The meeting was well attended and thoughtful questions were raised concerning clean water from MDC pipes. In addition, Upper Albany Main Street would like to thank Hartford Mayor, Luke Bronin and MDC CEO, Scott Jellison for attending. If you were unable to attend, meeting minutes are available at the Upper Albany Main Street Office at 1382 Albany Avenue, Floor 2, Hartford, CT, 06112.
Metropolitan District CEO Scott Jellison told worried residents and business owners at a Hartford business association meeting Thursday morning that their water is safe despite concerns about corroded pipes.
Their concerns stemmed from significant flooding at Lisa Vivian’s business at 980 Albany Ave. and a corroded piece of pipe brought to the meeting by resident Alburn Montague.
Vivian said she had never had a sewer problem until a backup left four feet of contaminated water in her building’s basement after the MDC was doing work outside her building. She said she spent $40,000 to hire a contractor, who determined the problem was created by MDC.
“You have no idea what my family has been through in the last eight months,” Vivian said.
Jellison said it was the first time he had heard about the issue but MDC would go to the business and investigate.
“When we have members of this organization who declare that they will no longer use the MDC water because they are starting to doubt the quality of the water that’s the big picture here today,” business association member Ellsworth Cross said during the meeting. “After seeing the pipe that came from Mr. Montague’s service, in their mind, they’re thinking that this is symptomatic of the network.”
Jellison said the pipe wasn’t a fair representation of the MDC because it was found on private property.
Jellison was one of at least four MDC representatives who attended Thursday morning’s Upper Albany Merchants Association meeting. Earlier this week, four members of the merchants association asked Jellison and MDC chair William DiBella to attend their meeting and address the neighborhood concerns, showing them photos of Montogue’s corroded pipe.
The nearly 40 residents and business owners who attended wanted to know who is responsible for maintaining the water and sewer pipes and how they could find out about underground issues that could affect their drinking water. They also wanted to know if problems could be addressed by the state Department of Transportation through an ongoing streetscape improvement project now underway in the neighborhood.
Jellison said repeatedly during the 90-minute question-and-answer session — which grew heated at times — that the MDC has assessed all its water mains and that the one in the upper Albany Avenue area is not slated for upgrade until at least 2038.
Jellison said the MDC tests its water “more than 200 times daily” across its member towns but added that residents with concerns about the water from their faucets may have testing done by MDC for free. Jellison offered to go to a number of residents’ homes to test the water quality, but warned that problems with pipes on private property are the property owner’s responsibility, not MDC’s.
“If there’s a water quality problem within a piece of property most likely its because the property has piping, copper or lead piping inside the property and [it] is not the responsibility of the MDC to go into private property and replace that infrastructure,’’ he said.
In addition to the MDC, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and representatives from the state Department of Public Health and the state Department of Transportation attended the meeting.
“You have our assurance that we will participate in looking into this issue,” said the DPH’s LInda Ferraro.
Kristina Newman-Scott, the state’s director of culture and historic preservation since May 2015, is leaving that post to become president of BRIC, a nonprofit arts hub in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her last day in Hartford is Aug. 3.
Newman-Scott said a search firm courted her for about three months.
“I wasn’t going to consider it but when I gave it a proper look, I realized the organization encompasses every single thing I’ve done in my career: television, curatorial, arts administration, arts education, program development, concerts and performing arts,” she says.
Before the state post, Newman-Scott was director of marketing, events and cultural affairs for the City of Hartford from 2012 to 2015, and before that was director of programs at Boston Center for the Arts for one year. From 2005 to 2010, she was director of visual arts at Real Art Ways in Hartford.
Before emigrating to the United States, Newman-Scott was an arts consultant in her hometown of Kingston, Jamaica, as well as a TV personality and visual artist.
Catherine Smith, commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, praised Newman-Scott.
“Kristina has done a terrific job bringing innovation and inclusion to our cultural programs and she will be sorely missed,” Smith wrote in an email. “But I am especially sorry to see her go, having depended on her strong arts experience, creative approach to problems and ever-thoughtful decision-making abilities.”
According to its website, BRIC, an acronym for Brooklyn Information & Culture, “is the leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn, and one of the largest in New York City.” The facility has a public media center, exhibit space, two performance spaces, a TV studio and artist work spaces.
Newman-Scott’s husband Gordon Scott is co-owner of Scott’s Jamaican Bakery in Hartford. The couple has two daughters