Monthly Archives: October 2007

Blue Back Square’s official opening on Saturday

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — A ribbon-cutting ceremony will mark the official opening of West Hartford Center’s newest addition, Blue Back Square, on November 3 at 10 a.m.  The event will be held on Webster Walk, near the statue of Noah Webster and the West Hartford public library on South Main Street. 
Speakers will be West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka as well as members of the Blue Back Square development team, including Richard Heapes, partner, Blue Back Square/Street-Works and Rick Langhorne, president, Ronus Propertie s.  The West Hartford Hall High School freshman symphonic band will help celebrate the occasion.

The new town square is a first for Connecticut as a unique, mixed-use development and one of a handful in the U. S.  A mixed-use development is a symbiotic balance of residential, retail, office and civic space, designed for all aspects of life.  Blue Back Square not only brings new shops and restaurants to The Center, but Hartford Hospital Wellness Center, New York Sports Clubs as well as luxury condominiums and rental apartment lofts.

Retail anchors at Blue Back Square include Crate and Barrel, The Cheesecake Factory, REI, Barnes & Noble, and Criterion Cinemas.

In 2008, condominiums and apartments will welcome new residents, bringing 24-hour life to The Center in a new way.

Blue Back Square hails its name from Noah Webster’s blue grammar books, which were called “blue back spellers.”  Noah Webster, writer of the American dict ionary, was raised in what is now West Hartford. 

Blue Back Square is a 600,000-square-foot, mixed-use development located in the heart of West Hartford Center between South Main Street, Memorial Road and Raymond Road.  It is an extension of West Hartford Center, a popular pedestrian -friendly shopping and dining district that presently consists of 140 upscale national, regional and local shops, restaurants and a Whole Foods Market.

Blue Back Square includes approximately 220,000 square feet of additional retail; 95,000 square feet of professional office space; 130,000 square feet of medical office space including New York Sports Clubs; and luxury condominiums and rental apartment lofts.  Ronus Properties of Atlanta, Ga., Street-Works of White Plains, N. Y., and JDA Development of West Hartford, Conn. are developing the project.  This partnership combines the national, mixed-use development experience and expertise of Street-Works with the regional sensibility and sensitivity of JDA and the financial strength of Ronus, a full-service, real estate management and development firm.  



Filed under Blue Back Square, West Hartford Center

Meet the school board candidates Tuesday night

West Hartford SEPTA (Special Education PTA) is pleased
to invite everyone to one more opportunity to meet the
Board of Education Candidates, at Duffy School on
Tuesday October 30 from 7-9 pm.

This event is for everyone in the community, not just
for those interested in special education.

Please spread the word!  Attached is a flyer you can

Don’t be complacent…
 Show your interest in our schools


Tuesday October 30, 7-9 PM
Duffy School Auditorium
95 Westminster Dr

Sponsored by West Hartford SEPTA

You are invited to submit questions for the candidates
to prior to the meeting or bring them
with you.


Filed under Board of Education, education, Schools, SEPTA

Courant endorses six Democrats for town council

Here’s the Courant’s editorial today:

October 19, 2007


The decay of inner suburbs has foretold regional ills in some parts of the country. That hasn’t happened in Connecticut, by and large, but it is in the state’s interest to keep its inner suburbs strong. West Hartford has been one of the state’s best-run inner-ring communities, even drawing residents from outer suburbs. The town has gained momentum in recent years, and the town council incumbents responsible deserve re-election.

They withstood lawsuits and withering criticism to support Blue Back Square, a smart growth project in West Hartford Center. Now that the $158.8 million entertainment, shopping and residential project is opening, their resolve is being rewarded.

Development efforts are also underway in Elmwood, on Park Road and elsewhere. The town’s schools remain strong and cannot be shortchanged. The Democrat-led council has undertaken an array of other initiatives, from green energy to traffic calming and a bicycle task force. By contrast, the Republican challengers offer few new ideas beyond unspecified budget cuts and efficiencies.

Residents can vote for six council candidates. Nine will be elected, with a maximum of six from one party. The Courant recommends:

Scott Slifka, 33, is a Democrat and a lawyer. Mayor since 2004, Slifka has emerged as one of the top municipal leaders in the state. He is a poised, he listens and he thinks creatively.

Carolyn Thornberry, 59, a consultant, is a Democrat running for her third term. She was behind elderly tax relief, a new senior center and new playing fields, among other things.

Chuck Coursey, 44, is a Democrat who runs a public relations agency. He is seeking a third term, and has been responsible for project oversight of Blue Back Square. He has championed smart growth development in commercial centers and a number of quality of life issues.

Joseph Verrengia, 43, is a Democrat and West Hartford police officer seeking his second full term on the council after being appointed to complete a partial term. Mr. Verrengia switched parties after bucking GOP leadership to support Blue Back Square. He is a budget hawk and has a strong interest in the Elmwood neighborhood.

Shari Cantor, 47, also is a Democrat seeking her second full term. She is an accountant and has played a key role in budget matters.

Tim Brennan, 37, is a Democrat seeking office for the first time. He is a lawyer and the son of two local teachers, and has a strong interest in schools, senior issues and energy policy.

Also worthy of consideration are:

Leon S. Davidoff, 45, a business owner and lawyer. A Republican, Davidoff brings considerable experience, having served on the Newington town council in the 1990s as well as on West Hartford’s plan and zoning commission.

Steven Adler, 46, is a Republican and an insurance operations manager. Currently a member of the zoning commission, he would emphasize fiscal discipline and economic development.

Kelly A. Clark, 29, is a lawyer and a Republican seeking her first term. She is attuned to issues involving younger residents, and has a concern for traffic safety, among other things.

Also running are:

Peter Martin, 30, a lawyer and Republican seeking a first term. He stresses an open budget process and concern about taxes.

Michael Seder, 65, is a Republican seeking his first term. An industrial salesman, he has served on the Ledyard town council, and is focused on fiscal restraint and responsive government.

Joseph Visconti, 50, is a Republican and general contractor seeking his first term. An activist known for his opposition to Blue Back Square, Visconti says he champions fiscal discipline and public involvement in government.


Filed under campaign, election, Hartford Courant, town council

Dump DeLuca

 Is there any doubt that State Senator Louis DeLuca should be tossed out of the General Assembly without delay?

The senator’s obtuseness is amazing.

It’s clear that DeLuca had a long-standing relationship with the mob-connected James Galante, who sounds like a character on The Sopranos.

When DeLuca thought his granddaughter’s husband was abusing her, he didn’t turn to the police or other family members. Instead, he asked Galante to pay the guy a visit.

FBI surveillance tapes later picked up Galante telling associates the possibly nasty husband should be “bitch slapped,” though that never actually happened.

Recognizing that DeLuca is a fundamentally dishonest politician, an undercover agent tried to bribe him to help Galante with special legislation.

DeLuca’s answer?

Not “I’m calling the police” or “how dare you?”

Instead, the senator said, “Anytime he needs anything — anything — within my power, that I can do, I will do.”

No doubt.

That’s why he should have no power at all.Since DeLuca doesn’t have the sense to resign, the Senate should expel him. Every day that DeLuca continues to serve brings further dishonor on the Senate and the state.

Isn’t it about time we demanded ethics and honesty from all of our political leaders?


Filed under corruption, DeLuca, State Senate

Dodd, Obama score most West Hartford donations

The Washington Post helpfully breaks down presidential fundraising by town, so we can see who’s getting what from West Hartford donors.  

Third Quarter 2007 & 2007 Fundraising by Candidate

Candidate Q3 2007 Overall
Chris Dodd $5,752 $104,352
Barack Obama $5,039 $36,032
Hillary Rodham Clinton $2,360 $6,760
John Edwards $1,250 $7,450
Bill Richardson $1,000 $1,500
Joe Biden $0 $500
Fred Thompson $1,250 $1,250
John McCain $1,030 $1,830
Rudy Giuliani $900 $1,150
Mitt Romney $80 $1,056
Jim Gilmore $0 $500
Duncan Hunter $0 $250


Filed under Clinton, Dodd, fundraising, News, Obama, West Hartford

Kingswood Market closing doors

After 70 years in business on Farmington Avenue, the Kingswood Market is closing down, according to a story in today’s Hartford Courant. The owner can’t afford the rent hike sought by his landlord.

While the market is only vaguely familiar to me — I’ve run in a few times over the years — this strikes me as yet another indication that West Hartford’s economic success could wind up turning the town into another oasis of upscale chain stores and high-priced eateries, devoid of any particular local flavor. It’s a problem most communities would be only too happy to face, but it’s nonetheless troubling.

What, after all, make West Hartford different than other well-off little cities? We’re sort of like a college town, with better housing and no tailgating. We have the shops, the restaurants, even the bookstores (a rarity in America today). But if someone a decade from now looks around arrives from another state and looks around, will they see anything at all that couldn’t be in Ithaca, Madison, Northampton, Charlottesville or Iowa City? I’m not sure.

As rents rise, it becomes ever harder for strictly local businesses to make a go of it. The overhead gets so high that it becomes risky to sign a lease. The long-term prospects for our familiar bookstores, hardware store, sports shops and more are increasingly shaky despite a stunning prosperity everywhere you look.

So I’m sad to see the market shut down. It hurts its neighborhood, of course, but it’s also perhaps the canary in the coal mine.


Filed under Kingswood Market, West Hartford Center, West Hartford economy

9-11 symposium at St. Joseph College on Nov. 3

This looks interesting.


Filed under 9-11, St. Joseph College, war