Category: Uncategorized

CHEETAH at University of Hartford’s MBI

Dr. Paulette Trowers was the guest speaker at the University of Hartford’s small business practicum class during the spring semester.  Seventeen students were enrolled and are working on diverse projects after being paired on a one-to-one basis with small or micro business owners in the Hartford community. Project areas include technology, research, and architectural design. Dr. Celia Duke Lofink (the class instructor),  the guest speaker, and all the students posed for this photograph at the end of the class.

 

Hartford to pay $10M settlement in ballpark development litigation

The Hartford Courant reports that after seven years and $6M in legal fees, the City of Hartford has negotiated directly with Arch Insurance Company and reached an agreement to settle the city’s dispute with the former developers — Centerplan and DoNo Hartford LLC — who were fired by Mayor Bronin from the unfinished Dunkin’ Park in 2016, and one year later, the mixed-use development around the 6,100-seat stadium. The $9.9M settlement is outlined in Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin’s letter to the city council calling for payment to the Arch Insurance Company that financed the completion of the Dunkin’ ballpark.

The city was victorious in a jury trial in the case in 2019. The developers successfully appealed that decision and won a new trial that was set to begin in the spring. During an afternoon news conference at Hartford City Hall, Bronin reiterated his belief that the city would yet again be on the winning side, but the prospect of years of further appeals — costing as much as $6 million — plus years of stalled redevelopment around Dunkin’ Park made the settlement the right option for the city.  Bronin continued by saying that the settlement “represents an opportunity not only to eliminate those legal fees but to remove the cloud of this litigation altogether […] and to allow the city of Hartford to move forward with the development of the parcels around the baseball park and to ensure the new administration can come in without the distraction of ongoing litigation.”

Since 2016, the city has paid about $6 million in legal fees to outside firms with expertise in construction law. Those fees, plus the costs of defending and settling the lawsuit bring the total expenditure closer to $16 million. Stamford-based RMS Companies — the developer who replaced Centerplan and DoNo Hartford — have completed one phase of the development around Dunkin’ Park, specifically the $50 million, 270-unit apartment known as “The Pennant”.

However, the litigation blocked RMS from advancing to the second of four planned phases for more than a year, but RMS’ founder and chief executive Randy Salvatore remained committed to the development.  According to the Courant, Salvatore said, “I’m obviously very excited about the whole thing,” Salvatore said Thursday, of the settlement. “We’re gearing up right now to go, so I’m hopeful that we can have a groundbreaking by the end of the year.”

North Crossing’s second phase identified as “Parcel B” will have 532 apartments, a 541-space garage, and 10,000 square feet of storefront space with construction costing $120 million. Parcel B development will be completed in two phases. The first phase will include 228 apartments and the planned parking garage. The remaining 304 apartments will be completed in the second phase.

According to the Courant, at the news conference, Bronin said moving forward with North Crossing was important for several reasons including:

  • Generating new taxes to help pay off the city’s costs in building Dunkin’ Park.
  • Rebuilding the momentum behind the city’s revitalization.
  • Fueling economic development.

Louis R. Pepe, an attorney for the former developers issued a statement Thursday that said: Centerplan and DoNo Hartford “are very pleased with the settlement of the claims they had against the City of Hartford in this matter, and they look forward to recovering additional compensation for their losses in the continuing litigation against the design professionals for the stadium project,” the Courant reported.

The new trial was scheduled for April 2024, but with this settlement, both sides have agreed that there would be no further litigation in this matter in the future. Visit the Hartford Courant for more details.

Source: Kenneth R. Gosselin, Hartford Courant, October 26, 2023. kgosselin@courant.com.

Hartford Flood Compensation Program

Application for compensation under the Hartford Flood Compensation Program begins today, September 1, 2023.  The application form,  a guide to completing the application, and instructions for completing the application are available on the  Office of the State Comptroller’s (OSC) website. The links below provide easy access to the documents:

    • The step-by-step guide on how to submit the application may be accessed by clicking here.
    • The application form may be accessed by clicking here.
    • The instructions for applying may be accessed by clicking here.

According to the OSC, completed applications and supporting documentation must be submitted in one of the following ways:

    1. By mail: Attention: Office of the State Comptroller/Hartford Flood Compensation Program, 165 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06106
    2. By email: HartfordFloodHelp@ct.gov
    3. In-person: Blue Hills Civic Association, 1229 Albany Ave, Third Floor, Suite 306, Hartford, CT 06112

STEP-BY-STEP APPLICATION AND REVIEW PROCESS

    • STEP 1: Complete the application and gather supporting documentation (including proof of Hartford residency, proof of ownership of property, and all insurance documentation (including policies and claim information) – if applicable
    • STEP 2: Mail or email the application WITH supporting documentation to the locations outlined above.
    • STEP 3: An eligibility determination (or request for additional information) will be made within 30 days of receipt of your completed application (applications are only complete once all supporting documentation has been provided).
      • Applicants who are deemed eligible must hire an estimator or contractor (approved by the program administrator) to conduct an onsite visit to verify the damages and provide an estimate verifying the cost to repair those damages.
        • In some instances, a virtual inspection, photos, or video documentation of damages may be submitted instead of an onsite visit (at the discretion of the program administrator).
        • All documentation, estimates, photos, and videos will be reviewed and approved, denied, or modified by the program administrator.
      • STEP 4: Once an administrator’s final determination is made, payments will be mailed to approved applicants at the residential address provided on their application. Appeals of a decision by the administrator must be done in writing and sent to:

Office of the State Comptroller, 165 Capitol Avenue, Hartford CT 06106.

      • All appeal determinations by the Comptroller and/or its third-party administrator will be final.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION NEEDED

      • Two (2) forms of Proof of Identity. Acceptable forms of identity are listed in the next section.
      • Two (2) forms of Proof of Hartford Residency. Acceptable forms of Hartford residency are listed in the next section.
      • Proof of ownership of real property. Acceptable proof of ownership is a property tax bill.
      • Documentation of any insurance claim submitted and/or paid.
      • Documentation showing repairs that have already been completed.
      • An inspection report that is deemed eligible by the program administrator

ACCEPTED PROOF OF IDENTITY DOCUMENTATION (As proof of identity, you must present copies of two (2) forms of identification):

      • US or US Territory Birth Certificate or Registration of Birth (Hospital issued and Puerto Rico issued before July 1, 2010, is not acceptable; foreign place of birth see Non-US Born)
      • Unexpired US Passport or Passport Card
      • Unexpired Foreign Passport
      • Certificate of Naturalization (N-550 or N-570)
      • Certificate of Citizenship (N-560 or N-561)
      • Unexpired Permanent Resident Card (I-551)
      • US Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240, DS-1350 or FS-545)
      • Social Security Card
      • Unexpired Connecticut-issued ID card, driver’s license, or learner’s permit
      • Out-of-State US photo driver’s license £ US Territory or Canadian photo driver’s license (Unexpired)
      • Out of State US or Canadian-issued photo learner’s permit
      • Certified school transcript
      • A baptismal certificate or similar document
      • Marriage or Civil Union Certificate
      • Court Order: Must contain full name and date of birth (i.e., name change, adoption, marriage, or civil union dissolution)
      • Connecticut State Permit to Carry Pistols or Revolvers
      • US Military ID or dependent card with photo
      • Military discharge/separation papers (DD-214)
      • State or Federal Employee Identification with signature and photo and/or physical description with or without date of birth
      • CT Department of Correction certificate (CN101503)
      • Pilot’s license (issued by the US DOT Federal Aviation Administration)
      • Employment Authorization Document (I-766 or I-688B)
      • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
      • Federally Recognized Tribal Member ID card
      • DHS Trusted Traveler Cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)

ACCEPTED PROOF OF HARTFORD RESIDENCY DOCUMENTATION (You must provide copies of two (2) different forms of documentation from the list below to prove Connecticut residency):

These documents must show your name and your Hartford residence address, be dated within ninety (90) days (unless stated otherwise below), and be computer generated (typed). Acceptable documents are:

    • Postmarked mail
    • Bill from a bank or mortgage company, utility company, credit card company, doctor, or hospital
    • Bank statement showing the name and mailing address of the bank
    • Pre-printed pay stub showing the name and address of your employer
    • Property or excise tax bill dated within the previous 12 months
    • Valid unexpired CT driver’s license, learner’s permit, or ID card with the same address
    • Current valid homeowner’s, renter’s policy, or motor vehicle insurance card or policy dated within the previous 12 months
    • Current valid Connecticut motor vehicle registration
    • Current motor vehicle loan statement for a motor vehicle registered in your name
    • Residential mortgage, lease, or rental contract signatures from all parties needed to execute the agreement and dated within the previous 12 months
    • Change-of-address confirmation from the United States Postal Service showing your prior and current address (Form CNL107)
    • Official school records showing enrollment
    • Report card

APPLICATION CHECKLIST

  1. Completed Application
  2. Supporting documentation
  3. Inspection report (deemed eligible by the administrator)

Hartford Flood Compensation Pilot Program

According to a news release by the Office of the State Comptroller, on June 12, 2023, Governor Ned Lamont signed into law the 2024-2025 biennium budget, which established the Hartford Flood Compensation Program. This is a $5,000,000 pilot program overseen by the Office of the State Comptroller and the focus of this grant program is to provide financial assistance or reimbursement–for things such as repairs–to eligible owners of real property in the city of Hartford who experienced damage caused by flooding on or after January 1, 2021.

The news release continues:

On June 26, 2023, Comptroller Sean Scanlon joined public officials and advocates to formally announce the grant funding for the Hartford Flood Compensation Program.

On August 2, 2023, Comptroller Scanlon announced the appointment of Dr. Gary Rhule as the Hartford Flood Compensation Program administrator. The following week, on August 10, 2023, Comptroller Scanlon announced that the application will be available September 1, 2023. The below graphic outlines the application steps. In the meantime, if you are a Hartford resident who was impacted by flooding from January 2021 to the present, it is important that you maintain and/or compile documentation on damage and associated costs.

Please contact the Blue Hills Civic Association at (860) 560-7360 or visit 1229 Albany Avenue, Third Floor, Suite 306, Hartford, CT 06112 to request an application or if you have questions or concerns.

You may also sign up to receive updates from the Office of the State Comptroller on the Hartford Flood Compensation Program by accessing the Comptroller’s website and providing the required information on the site.

Hartford Sewer Backup and Sewer Flooding Pilot Project

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the US Environmental Protection Agency have recently announced the sewer backup and sewer flooding pilot project. This project focuses on sewer separation, sewer rehabilitation, and private property stormwater separation in the North End that is being conducted by Hartford’s sewer utility, the MDC. DEEP will share information on this long-term project from time to time and as progress warrants updates. Copies of the Hartford Sanitary Sewer Overflow Fact Sheet and the Sewer Backups and Flooding Update may be viewed by clicking on the following links:

  1. Hartford Sewer Overflow Fact Sheet_August 2023 (1)
  2. Hartford North End_Sewer Backups and Sewer Flooding Update_Aug2023 (2)

 

Water woes: More heavy rain brings more headaches in Hartford

 

Star hardware-backyard

Residents in several areas of Hartford and in CT were still dealing with previous flooding from the torrential rainstorms during the first two weeks of July when heavy rains during a tornado watch resulted in the highest-recorded rain totals in each county, ranging from 3.38 inches in Hartford County to 1.07 inches in New London County.  Hartford residents shared the horrors of their flooded businesses and homes after new flooding on Sunday 7/16/2023, closed roads, and soaked basements in several counties across the State.

Many North Hartford residents have applauded the state for pledging $85 million to mitigate flooding in the streets and their basements but expressed that the pledge will not eliminate their sickening memories of sewage, massive amounts of water, and damage to their homes. The flooding issues continue and are compounded by sewers that are inadequate to handle the volume of water created by the heavy rainstorms. Other residents are hopeful that the funds will be distributed to help the residents in a timely fashion.

Five residents have shared stories of the emotional toll caused by the flooding whenever it rains and the continuous flooding in their homes and businesses, the smell of decay, and the heavy losses that they incur (many losses cannot be replaced).

Sharon Lewis, a Hartford resident and executive director of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, said that since the Dec. 4 flooding, she has endured several setbacks. The biggest setback was finding out that she was not insured for sewage backups. Her house is still condemned, but she and her husband had been living in a hotel and their last day was July 3. She is currently living in temporary housing and the rent is paid by a private donor for a period of one year.  Lewis has expressed her gratitude for the people who have helped her during such stressful circumstances and she remains tremendously overwhelmed. She offered that she had been hospitalized twice for issues relating to stress. According to the Hartford Courant, Lewis said:

“All of my precious antiques were destroyed and discarded. My mother’s DNA was in the basement freezer. I never got around to sending it in. Everyone who knows me knows that I’ve been a collector of rare artifacts from the African American experience post-slavery my entire life. I was so proud to own a piece of history. Gone in an instant.”

“Then to discover that I was technically homeless?… This has taken a tremendous toll on me. Never in a million years would I have thought that I’d be in a situation such as this. Seven months and one day living in limbo not being able to help myself due to the emotional toll this has taken.  I have been hospitalized twice for issues relating to stress.”

Bridgette Prince, a community activist, knows the pain of grieving and mourning the loss of cherished memorabilia and tangible artifacts that can never be replaced. Prince explained that although she had lost her military items to flooding 35 years ago, the pain of the loss remains in her heart to this day and fuels her fight as a community leader and activist for issues to be resolved for all residents in the north end. Prince was born in Hartford and grew up in East Hartford where she and many of her friends aspired to be in the military and were able to make their dream a reality. Her father’s house in Hartford flooded 35 years ago and Prince lost her military uniform, paperwork, metals, and certificates from the military (all cherished memorabilia that she had stored in his home) some of which cannot be replaced.

Prince offered that according to the National Weather Service,  much more rain is expected this week and there will be more flooding. Therefore leaders should be making sure that residents are protected from flooding with immediate relocation assistance and other forms of assistance. Regarding the July 4 flooding, according to the Hartford Courant, Prince said :

“People call me crying. You know the Church called me. This is how I found out about the church, North United Methodist Church called me on the 4th of July. And I was like, the irony of it, Independence Day… How do you celebrate independence when we are still looking and fighting for the government to say okay, this matters, this is beyond urgent… Leaders should be making sure residents are “independent of sewage and toxins and waste and flooding coming into your property, destroying your possessions that you worked hard for, that you inherited, that you earned.”

Prince also expressed her opinion that during the recent flood, the City should have been out there supporting all residents who needed assistance, including relocation assistance.  She continued that officials who attended the recent press conference celebrating the $85 million in funding announced by Gov. Ned Lamont should have also been present to help constituents during the recent flood.

Nikeda Parkes is a homeowner who lives on Granby Street. When she purchased her home she did not know that she would be inheriting flooding issues. Parks report that during the last rainfall, water began gathering by a huge tree at the back of her home. The roots of the tree are affecting the foundation of her home which is built on a slab and has no basement. Since the recent rain, she is unable to cut her grass because of the water that has pooled by the tree and created a swamp that has taken over her entire backyard. The standing water also breeds mosquitos and other types of insects and bugs because it has not run off to the street.

Parkes said it took her by surprise that many of her neighbors on the street had been dealing with flooding issues over a long period of time. She is hopeful that things will eventually get better due to the funding that is being put in place. According to the Hartford Courant, Parkes said “They [her neighbors]  have gotten so used to the empty promises, that they don’t have any hope in seeing that it’s gonna be fixed.”

Reggie Hales is a Hartford native and president of the Hartford Enterprise Zone Business Association and publisher of the Inquiring News. He no longer lives in the area, but he represents and supports local merchants in Main Street, Barbour Street, and Windsor Street areas, known as the “Enterprise Zone.” Hales pointed out that merchants and residents in these areas are exhausted because, despite the recent funding, the City knew that flooding from the severe storms was going to happen again and residents and merchants in the area are left at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Hales informed that he is advising residents and business owners that it could be time to solicit legal assistance on the matter of fixing the sewage and flooding issues because “we are low on the totem pole, these promises come every four years and at the end of the day, we continue to suffer” Hales continued that the flooding and sewage are negatively impacting merchants and their businesses in the north end, they are losing customers, and are unable to open for business as they clean up the damages for which many insurance companies do not cover the cost. He said, “Is it fair that they continue to be a victim of something that obviously is an emergency in any other community?”

Max Kothari, the business owner of Star Hardware,  is closing his business due to repeated flooding. He said that the issue is primarily about an infrastructure that needs to be handled by those in power, “The people in power keep talking about infrastructure, which is true. There are infrastructure issues that need to be dealt with. The majority of the issues are controllable within their reach, but they choose not to fix it. And that is very, very disheartening…To see… younger African American, minority kids playing in the sewer water, not knowing that they’re playing in sewer water. It’s just a crime. And what’s really astounding is the people in power know about this, (but it) does not equate to a health emergency. ” His hardware store was 35 years old and he had been running it with his wife for 35 years. He also said that it was traumatic coming to work on July 4 and having to call his employees to come and clean up the flooding instead of celebrating their independence holiday with their loved ones. Kothari continued to say that he is most stunned by the lack of humanity when it comes to solving issues in the north end.

Source Credit: Deidre Montague – Hartford Courant – July 17, 2023

NAACP demands aid to Hartford North End Communities

The Greater Hartford NAACP has called for action to solve flooding issues in Hartford’s North End communities.  This call came as the federal EPA  said it is investigating the causes of sewage overflows and whether the agencies responsible for the City’s stormwater infrastructure have fulfilled their obligations. The EPA and NAACP statements are a follow-up to the continuous efforts by community leaders and residents to secure action from local, state, and federal officials and agencies.

Corrie Betts, Greater Hartford NAACP President, commented that her branch of the NAACP is committed to collaborating with her NAACP partners in the fight for environmental justice and the accountability of the leadership to address the harmful impacts on Black communities. Betts said that the flooding in Hartford’s North End illustrates the long-standing pattern of neglect and mistreatment of Black communities and he was recently contacted by the national board of the NAACP regarding the situation. He added that the neglect is risking the lives of men, women, and children and is negatively impacting the economic well-being of these communities.

The disinvestment, redlining, and inadequate infrastructure have been exacerbated by climate change and extreme weather events thereby compounding the harm of chronic flooding and pollution on the communities in Hartford’s North End.  He continued that it is time for the city, the MDC, the state DEEP, the Department of Public Health, and the EPA to take action and collectively resolve the issues.

Betts said the NAACP is calling on organizations and agencies to take action by:

    • investing in critical infrastructure improvements in predominantly Black communities throughout the City of Hartford with improvements to water services and flood management systems;
    • addressing root causes of the issues such as a lack of investment in the communities;
    • working with key leaders and organizations to develop solutions that are responsive to the needs of the communities.

He said, “We must act now to ensure that all members of our community have access to safe, reliable, and equitable services.” Read the full article in the Hartford Courant.

Source: Deidre Montague, Hartford Courant, March 1, 2023.

Bi-Partisan Group seeks more transparency from the MDC

On Friday, February 17, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and conservation advocates met in Hartford to advocate for the proposed legislation, HB-5888, that would increase oversight and transparency within the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC).  The MDC is a quasi-government agency that provides drinking water and sewage treatment services to more than 400,000 customers across portions of Hartford, Middlesex. and Tolland counties.

If passed, this bill would establish a task force to study MDC organization and operations, mandate annual compliance audits by Auditors of Public Accounts, mandate that the MDC adopt and enforce a model code of ethics, and allow MDC commissioners from non-member municipalities to vote on water rates.

The MDC asserts that these measures are both unreasonable and unnecessary., while supporters of the bill advocate that it would restore public confidence in the MDC during a time when lawmakers argue that public trust in the utility company is waning.

Tom Delnicki introduced the bill and ahead of the public hearing on the bill, he spoke to reporters saying, “We are not here to sink the MDC…We’re here to try and make it better.” Delnicki further emphasized that there needs to be a second set of eyes on MDC finances and operations, modern-day revisions to the MDC’s 1929 charter, tougher standards of ethics, and active representation for non-member municipalities.

Delnicki continued that four of the commissioners that sit on the MDC board represent non-member districts and do not have a right to vote. These commissioners represent towns that get water from the MDC, namely South Windsor, Glastonbury, East Granby, and Farmington. They should be afforded the right to vote on the water rates that their customers pay.  He further explained that HB No. 5888 grants the right to each of these commissioners to vote on one thing only – the rates.

Sen. Derek Slap, Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, Rep. Mike  Demicco, leaders of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, and the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut supported Delnicki’s bill. Lawmakers illuminated concerns regarding the legal bills of an MDC chairman, a discounted deal with Niagara Bottling Company, and flooding in Hartford as examples of situations that have diminished public confidence in the MDC.

Slap also alluded to the notion that the MDC currently lacks the benefit of the doubt. He also stated that fundamentally, the MDC exists to serve its customers and the towns “…not the other way around.” His constituents have expressed their love for the water, their faith, and their confidence in the water, but they do not have the same faith and confidence in the governance of the MDC.  Slap expressed his belief that constituents should be able to have the same faith and confidence in the governance of the MDC as they do for the water that the MDC provides…”…There should not be a difference between the two.”

In written testimony, Counsel for the MDC District,  Christopher Stone, contends that the MDC opposes H.B. 5888 because they consider its provisions unreasonable, unnecessary, and potentially harmful.  Stone added that the MDC’s ethics program is “comprehensive” and its Code of Ethics contains approximately 95 percent of the provisions contained in the Model Code. No municipality or district has adopted 100 percent of the Model Code as is proffered by HB 5888.  Additional information may be viewed on the Hartford Courant’s website.

Source:  Alison Cross, Hartford Courant, February 18, 2023. 

 

Hartford residents share flooding woes

Hartford residents were finally granted the opportunity to tell federal officials about their experiences having to deal with flooding and sewage that has entered and damaged their homes and businesses over the past several years and even decades.  In a meeting with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,  David Cash, EPA Administrator Region I, and Sharon Wells, the EPA’s director of the Civil Rights Urban Affairs Region 1, Hartford residents told the EPA officials that ‘nobody should have sewage in their basement.’

The meeting was organized by community activist Bridgitte Prince, civil/environmental rights attorney Cynthia Jennings, the Greater Hartford African American Alliance, Veterans for Black Lives Matter, and McKinney King American Legion Post 142, with the support of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. The meeting was held at the American Legion Hall on Main Street, Hartford, and was in place of a previously scheduled meeting (visited by EPA investigators) that was canceled on January 17, 2023.

A resident of Pembroke Street, Debra Jervis, told the officials of having to deal with flooding that happened in 2019, and again in 2022. She is now in danger of losing her insurance if she files an additional claim.  Jervis emphasized that as a homeowner, and on behalf of other homeowners who are facing similar situations, “…we’re begging you for help.  We need help. We are tired of the finger-pointing where well, it’s the City, it’s the MDC… We’re crying out for help. Please help us.”

Senator Blumenthal told the residents that this meeting is the beginning of a process that will only end when there are actions taken to eliminate the flooding, stop backups in people’s basements, and all other sewage issues that for too long, residents have had to experience first-hand.  He continued to say that action is overdue, although not casting blame on any one person, or any one agency, because in this situation several agencies bear the responsibility for addressing the problem. He assured the residents that he believes in good faith, everyone wants to address this problem, and he will be attending more meetings as a means of staying on top of the problem.

Cash, the EPA administrator, expressed that it was devastating to hear what the residents have had to deal with in terms of flooding and sewage issues. He said (excerpted), “Nobody should have sewage in their basement, no one should have floods…we’re setting our sights and trying to solve this problem working with the community…looking forward to working with DEEP as we move forward.”

Katie S. Dykes, Commissioner of the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, was in attendance with her staff.  She acknowledged that flooding and sewage issues in the City have been long-standing with the combined sewers that go back 100 years.  She said, “We’ve billions that we’ve been investing in trying to address the issue…But residents have real concerns that they haven’t seen these dollars…We’ve done a lot on the public system to try to fix it – the infrastructure that’s in the streets [or] the wastewater treatment plants – we’ve made major upgrades. There are a lot of good ideas here that are coming out about ways we can also provide grants or even loans…to help people make improvements on their properties to address these issues.”

Dykes offered that climate change is creating more frequent and intense rainstorms.  She said (excerpted), ” When you have a vulnerable community, where they feel that there has not been [a] proportionate investment, this community is feeling those impacts of climate change, first and worst…We are going to be sitting down tomorrow to talk with our partners at EPA and figure out while we have these federal dollars, what can we do to make a difference?’

Resident Reesa Cannada said (excerpted) she has been a homeowner for 43 years on Elm Street,  with her husband, and now whenever it rains, her basement becomes  “like a river…I have to put on rain boots to go in the basement, and we have to pump the water out of the basement.” Cannada said she has no intention of moving due to the problem and she is also advocating on behalf of the other homeowners.

Jervis said she was fortunate to receive financial help from her insurance, but she still had to pay out-of-pocket for the difference in the cost of repairs.  She is trying her best to put preventative measures in place and the City has helped through a grant program, but that is putting a band-aid on the problem.

Mayor Luke Bronin thanked the residents for sharing their experiences and illuminated the need to talk about the City’s entire stormwater system because, for the most part, Hartford’s sewer systems were built more than a century ago.  “It’s an ancient system…But the thing I want to make sure that everybody here knows because it’s got to be part of our advocacy as a City…there’s hundreds of millions of dollars of work being done to separate the sewer and the storm sewer…the problem is that Clean Water money that has been spent, can only be spent on separation, it can’t be spent to build a storm sewer system that’s actually capable of handling the amount of water that we’re getting.”

MDC Chairman William DiBella said the MDC is working with the community, the City, and the federal government. He said, “There are issues that we have to deal with, relative to what we actually have the authority to do. And it’s basically stormwater…And the environment has changed dramatically. In April of last year, we had a 100- and 250-year storm in the same week. That’s a significantly different environment that the systems [were]  designed for. We need federal help. We need state cooperation and help, and regional, as we are a regional body along with the City of Hartford.”

Dibella said he understands what is happening in the community and the complaints of residents regarding a slow response time, many of the issues are happening on private property, which is not within their [MDC’s] control. He said, “We have only so much authority, given to us by the state…And the DEEP basically controls what we can do. We just spent $1.7 billion in the last 10 to 12 years… And we’re going to spend another couple of billion dollars in the next 25 years. The mayor was right. It’s an old system…And we are now putting money into it…And we have been doing this for the last 10 to 15 years.”

Dibella also talked about the $2 million that the MDC had spent during this year [2022] just for backflow controls. He said, “We put them [at] our expense to resolve those problems, but the environment has changed so dramatically in the last seven to 10 years. We all have to work together, the federal infrastructure bills money is coming down…And we’re participating.”

Source: Deidre Montague, Hartford Courant, February 7, 2023.