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Letter: Residents Should Speak Up about Plans for Former UConn Campus

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To the Editor:

The new plans for the former UConn campus are a bad joke. Exactly how does this over-built assault on multiple nearby neighborhoods address the survey results previously submitted to the town? Over 600 residential units! Buildings 5 stories tall! (In a neighborhood of 1- and 2-story homes.) A new grocery! (We need another?) Retail! (remember Bishops Corner?) Restaurants! (How many do we already have?)

This is absurd. Neither the look of the proposed buildings nor the character fit the neighborhoods. And the traffic it will add to Trout Brook and Asylum is quite possibly deadly.

In exchange for trading a well-established area of homes we get what? A short expansion of the trail, a bridge over the pond (already one there), and wetland areas (because they can’t build there).

There are lots more questions and many, many issues to address in the review process. Should the developers have the right to build on this site? Yes. They bought the right. But the terms are up to the town – and WE the people.

Pay attention. Share with neighbors. Speak out. Let the Town know what you think. Before it’s too late.

Roberta Echelson
West Hartford

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  • Feels like a good time to renew previous plea for St. Joe’s to acquire this land. It’s a natural fit for them. They have been busy filling the once-enormous field bordering Albany Ave. with athletic venues. Given this, they’ll probably look back in a few years when they want to build more, and be kicking themselves they didn’t expand westward when they had the chance. A school should have sports facilities, of course, and the UConn property, still relatively undeveloped, could offer that option. Seems like a more fitting option for the neighborhood than the current proposal, with Bishop’s Corner so close, as Roberta mentions.
    Or St. Joe’s could just make it a big field for now and decide later what, if anything, to do with it.
    I still wonder how they moved that huge boulder that was once near their main building. It probably weighed more than Conny the Whale. St. Joe’s could clear the UConn buildings, make a nice field, bring the boulder back, and rebuild Conny there. That would be nice. It may not make sense economically at the moment to do that for them, but they can always sell it again later, or build sports fields, dorms, or what have you. Imho the future St. Joe’s community will be happy they bought it “way back in ’23”, and they are a much better fit for the surrounding neighborhood.

  • First, thank you to Roberta for bringing this issue up. I completely and totally agree THE MONSTROSITY has no place in our current neighborhood, or any R-1 neighborhood in our town. The essential character of West Hartford residential areas are defined by 1, 2, and 3 family homes.

    The developer bought land zoned R1 and proposes a development that is FIVE TIMES denser than Blue Back Square (only 120 residential units in that commercially zoned “downtown” area). The developer did not buy the right to destroy our neighborhood with downtown “towers” and more retail (really?) and commercial space (really?).

    This project is ridiculous, but the town continues to let them keep nibbling away with re-proposals (600 units becomes 580, then a slightly lower number, etc) that do nothing to address the core issue.

    This development idea is terrible for our neighborhood.

    We don’t need another “downtown” – we already have 3 plus the commercial spaces on Park Road and New Park Avenues. This development does nothing to increase truly affordable housing. It is an absolute nightmare from an environmental point of view (and their heavy equipment will kill the roots of the White Oak which extend 2.5 times the size of the canopy of the tree).

    From a parking and traffic perspective? Well it will quiet traffic to Bishops Corner because no one from our part of town (St. Joe’s) will be able to get there. Realistically, it is a traffic nightmare.

    Last, the wetlands should not only be protected, but potentially expanded. As recent storms have pointed out (and confirmed by severe storms over the last 50 plus years) we have a serious and significant drainage problem that needs to be solved.

    Those “wetlands” are part of the Talcott Mountain Watershed system that drains nearly all of West Hartford into the Trout Brook, North & South Park Rivers, and into the CT. The wetlands may indeed need to be incorporated into a successful drainage plan, and even expanded.

    So to allow massive building there before the proper drainage studies are completed are a disservice to every tax payer in town. A serious one. The giant parking lot they propose will only increase flood water and run-off, much of it contaminated.

    West Hartford, please just tell them to develop the land according to the zoning rights we currently have in place, and stop this unwanted potential commercial exploitation of our historical neighborhood and town.

    Bill Gleason, 45 Middlebrook Road, [email protected]

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