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AHNA Highpoints of the past 20 years

 

 

The Asylum Hill Problem Solving Committee met for the first time on January 10th 1995. It was an organizational meeting only and more than 50 people attended at Connecticut Mutual. They eventually agreed to meet monthly.

Later that year the City voted to adopt the new State NRZ statute (chapter118 sec7-600) for Hartford and the Committee with the assistance of the Comprehensive Communities Partnership began the work of becoming a Neighborhood Revitalization Zone in which the zone was all of Asylum Hill.

On March 2nd 1998 the completed plan was presented at a meeting and adopted. It was later accepted by the State and approved by Hartford City Council.

The Asylum Hill Problem Solving Committee (AHPSC) became The Asylum Hill Problem Solving Revitalization Association (AHPSRA) and incorporated as such June 15th 2001.

Soon thereafter AHPSRA began to work on a revised strategic plan with more attention to housing in part brought about by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority granting low income tax credits to several properties in Asylum Hill. In 2001 with the assistance of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union AHPSRA joined in a suit against Gary E. King President and Executive Director of CHFA. In 2006 the Connecticut Supreme Court found against AHPSRA et al but not on the merits of the case.

During that time,

  • Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CPBN) purchased and renovated an office building at 1049 Asylum Ave;
  • The “Victorian Lady”, a brick home residing on Aetna property was saved from demolition and moved from 43 Sigourney St to an empty lot at 21 Ashley St. to become the new home of Dulcie & Valerio Giadone;
  • the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford build a new Asylum Hill Clubhouse at 170 Sigourney St;
  • and the Urban Land Institute Provided a Technical Assistance Panel to look at the Farmington Ave Corridor.

The next attempt to create supportive housing was at 54 Huntington St with the proposed Ictineo Commons in 2008. This time AHPSRA was successful and at about this time began a 15 month process to draft a new Strategic Plan. With the assistance of Aetna and Robert Reichert an attorney at Reid & Reige it was completed and approved by Hartford City Council and the State. In the process our name was changed to Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association (AHNA) and later we began the process of applying for IRS 501c3 status, which we received October 31st 2011.

At about that time, Liam McGee became The Hartford’s  new CEO and very quickly determined that they should focus more of their philanthropic efforts closer to home. As a result he pledged $5,000,000. over a 5 year period to invest in Asylum Hill. That generosity has continued to this day, from the Harwood Study and Report in 2013 to the ongoing support of leadership Greater Hartford, to their support of the 20th Anniversary Gala Celebration.

One of the other significant accomplishments of that period was the demolition of the Capitol West building in April 2012, led by the generous pledge of $2,000,000. from The Hartford.

Also in 2012 Habitat for Humanity with the generous support of Aetna constructed the first 16 homes on S. Marshall St and then just this past year completed the project with 6 more, bringing the total to 22 new homeowners on that one street alone.

Another important partnership for AHNA was the Hartford Public Library’s Welcoming America grant that allowed us to welcome the recent immigrants many of whom were refugees from Asia and Africa, to America, Hartford and Asylum Hill. The partnership was very fruitful and included such events as

  • the New Voices of Asylum Hill event at CPBN,
  • the month-long Arts event We Are Asylum Hill, and
  • collaboration with The Town & County Club who hosted one of the performances
  • Town & County Spring Forum in part about immigrant integration.

Beginning in February 2015, AHNA in partnership with The Hartford News has been able to print the monthly newsletter inside the first edition of each month. Copies are then refolded and distributed throughout Asylum Hill.

A more detailed list of AHNA’s recent accomplishments and partnerships is available in our monthly newsletter Asylum Hill News & Views.