Category Archives: Library

New letter re Blue Black Square, from town manager

Letter from the Town Manager (March 23, 2007)While the first year of construction was spent mostly underground as utilities were installed and foundations were being poured, the second year you will see steel coming out of the ground as the key elements of Blue Back Square are taking shape.

The South Garage, renamed Memorial because of its placement near Memorial Road, is slated to open for use in April. The North Garage, located across from Whole Foods, is nearing completion and will be open in late September.   New parking spaces in the town hall lot and a new main entrance to the lot off of South Main Street will be created mid-June. The Burr Street entrance will be closed at that time.

The HealthTrax wellness and fitness center will open in May for people to view its facility and sign up for membership. At the same time, the first and second floors of the Hartford Hospital medical offices will be finished in June. The remaining third and fourth floors will be completed over the next several months.

The additions to the main library and police department are well underway. On the north side of the library, a 17,000 square foot addition will contain a children’s area that will double in size, a 50% larger reference room, a computer training room, an improved public meeting space, a teen room, and an area for local history. On the south side, the library will have a handicap-accessible elevator and an entrance to the new public square. 

The police department’s 6,620 sq. foot addition will feature an easily-accessible, customer-friendly records center, community/training room and administrative offices. The existing police headquarters will be upgraded with a new heating-ventilating-and cooling system and the first floor will be rehabilitated to include a new Probate Court. Also, the female locker room on the second floor will double in size, and new holding cells will be installed.

The first two floors of The Heritage, a luxury condominium, have been framed with walls and windows and the remaining two floors will follow this spring and summer.

Each month new tenants sign on to lease space in the Blue Back Square. To date, Crate and Barrel, Barnes & Noble, Criterion Cinemas, REI, Lucy Activewear, The Cheesecake Factory, National Jean Company, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar will be part of the new West Hartford Center. Steel framing for these retail shops and restaurants have been erected. A grand opening is scheduled for November 2007.

As the project moves along, I will communicate with you again to keep you up to date on progress being made. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please call me at (860) 561-7440 or the Blue Back Square office directly at 232-4800.


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Filed under Blue Back Square, HealthTrax, Library, News, parking, police, The Heritage, Town government, West Hartford economy

Picturing Mark Twain in West Hartford

Back in 1895, Mark Twain signed a picture of himself. No doubt he did that a lot.

One of the photographs somehow landed in a file at the West Hartford library long ago, where it was quickly forgotten until librarians unearthed it as they moved everything out in preparation for the ongoing expansion. Pretty neat find, I’d say.

But what happened next is peculiar and troubling.

According to a story in the Courant, the town shipped off the pictures and other artifacts to an auction gallery in New York City to find out their value and perhaps sell them. Library officials planned to put them up for sale if they could get enough money, though it’s unclear who set the minimum value or why.

Well, I’m here to tell you that we shouldn’t be selling off a signed picture of Mark Twain that belongs to my town. We should be hanging it on the wall of the library as an inspiration to generations to come, a small tribute to the nation’s finest writer, who happened to live just down Farmington Avenue for many years.

I’m perplexed why officials would think of selling it — assuming it’s not worth a vast fortune (which it isn’t) — and am horrified that they are talking about donating it to some kind of charity auction. Yes, really. They apparently think it would be best to let it vanish into some rich man’s home instead of putting it on display in a place of honor in our library, where it clearly belongs.

Twain was a neighbor. Let’s treat him like one, even now.

The picture isn’t a way to raise money. It’s a way to raise our eyes.


Filed under Library, Mark Twain, News, Town government