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Thursday, October 29, 2015


There are good things going on across our City. The following e-mail  I received today is just one example. If you  hear of  something positive going on, let me know, maybe it  will be posted here

I write to you about a story of "community" here in Hartford. 
It started with Kevin Brookman when I returned home and picked up my cellphone, I saw one of my missed calls was from him.  I texted and he called right back asking if I had heard about my friends' building, City Fare on Franklin Avenue -- it was on fire.  I thanked him profusely for caring to reach out and immediately left home again with such a heavy heart.  I love that building with its warm and inviting interior and old-fashioned side doors by which I used to let myself into the old kitchen.  Admittedly, as I was racing down to the scene, I was cursing Fran Reale (in heaven!) under my breath and asking how she could let this happen??!  When I arrived, I saw the Hartford Fire Department trying to preserve what remains of this charming building and City Fare business.  It is an experience I will NEVER forget and one that I hope others never have. Current building owners Phyllis Reale and Teresa Preziosi were SO incredibly brave and hopeful throughout that their kitchen and building may be saved so they could one day operate there again.  

It really was something to watch firefighters try to put out stubborn flames and smoke, in the pouring rain no less.  But Lt. Mario Oquendo was there because Special Services got involved and of course, who else came onto the scene and was incredibly helpful but State Rep Angel Arce.  We all see Mario and Angel at monthly MARG meetings, but it was so impressive to see them both in action!!  It was also impressive to watch HFD working together and trying to do their best to put out the fire.  Fire Marshal Lt. Sherriff was not only compassionate but extremely helpful and excellent in his public capacity.  He explained very technical fire terminology and his role in the process in plain English that all present could understand.  He conducted an exterior tour and methodically explained step-by-step what he thought had happened to cause the fire and how it traveled.  David Viens, Building Inspector from Licenses & Inspections, was very professional and kind and stayed around to the very end, trying to explain what happens in a fire-damaged building and when and what he and his department do.  With fire personnel, he went in and salvaged important business and insurance records.  Mario too, went back into the building and saved a laptop and storage drive with other business records.  There was a young police officer manning the sidewalk who was also very kind and professional.  And true kudos to the young woman who was driving by and saw the fire -- she stopped and called it in.  Mario Oquendo will try to obtain her name from fire dispatch.  This AM after getting a few hours sleep, I was so gratified to see such a prompt response to my request for help from both Julio Mendoza of SAMA and Fernando Rosa of HEDCO.  Both knew Fran Reale for years and helped Philly and Teresa obtain the loan to purchase the building after her death.

In short, it DOES matter "who" you know in our wonderful Hartford community and regardless of our bad politics and countless media stories, Hartford does have some fine staff and related resources who support our City, our businesses, our residents.

I hope those who know Philly, Teresa, Gary and Ricky will reach out to them via email, text, phone . . . whatever.  Angel Arce is already inquiring with SAMA and Trinity College to determine the availability of commercial kitchens in the area.  I was thinking the new Swift Factory kitchens??  Anyone else have an idea or can post on their FaceBook page to learn of one available??  The holidays are City Fare's busiest and most profitable times of the year.

Thanks all for reading,


Alyssa said...

WOW Kevin, guest poster!! Guess I've finally made it to the Big Time LOL. Thanks to any and all who read the post -- am really trying to encourage this business to stay and rebuild in Hartford. I remember the shabby treatment given to Bruce and Sunshine Laundry after their fire ... the same cannot happen here. City Fare is a small, but steady anchor of this section of Franklin Avenue, which a new mayor should focus on as part of a "gateway" street project. Right behind or adjacent to it, is a charming historic district. We need to re-imagine this area architecturally and planning-wise, and put some pressure on L&I and ZBA to issue some cease and desist notices to the myriad car repair/sales businesses that are ruining this portion of the avenue. Would appreciate folks adding any supportive posts here....


Thank you again Alyssa. I am very optimistic that we as a City are about to enter a new era of responsiveness at City Hall, where small business is recognized as the engine that drives Hartford and also creates jobs. Sunshine Laundry should have never happened under an administration that values local business. And the list continues , the Russian Lady Block parties to name another.

Great thoughts on your part. The foundation is clearly there, we just need an Administration to set the tone of accountability and build on that foundation. Your experience will hopefully be an everyday occurrence when dealing with our Public Servants after January 1, 2016, not that they aren't already with some

Anonymous said...

Brava, Altssa. Thank you for your positive thoughts. Now, I was just wondering today, how we as a city, lost WFSB under Eddie Petez to Cromwell.

Anonymous said...

Well, I would like to remain anonymous for many reasons and fear is not one of then. I met the ladies at City Fair when Alyssa was advocating for them in a recent health inspection issue. When I got there I found three very concerned/angry (perhaps) individuals victimized by our bureaucracy. When I left the place and hour latter, I left behind my admiration for three great fighters and whit respect for their work. With regards to certified kitchens, for small fee it can be arrange. The City has three certified kitchens, North End Senior Center, South End Senior Center and Parker Memorial Recreation Center.I hope this helps.


Alyssa said...

That is a FANTASTIC idea, "Friend"

I will follow up on Monday. Exactly the kind of suggestion and collaboration we need. And many thanks for your kind words. Philly, Teresa and I (plus Fran) are all "feisty broads" I guess -- trying to do our small part to make this city viable for small businesses to succeed.

As an aside, Lt. Oquendo found out the name of the person who called in the fire. More on that later.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, Maybe "Allysa" can be THE Hartford Fire Dept Public Information Officer (PIO) !!!!! That post was the most informative and positive response immediately after a fire incident in my almost 20 years on the job! Why cant HFD be inhanced with a Brian Foley type PIO???? I've witnessed professional actions for years with "NO PUBLIC RECOGNITION" whatsoever by the Dept. The taxpayers deserve and are entitled to this information. De-briefings will expose our effectiveness and residents should realize they are getting a return for their money. How ironic is it that there is "ANOTHER" statement/update from Brian Foley above this post??? Sgt.Vance made the CT State Police look heads above the rest with his weekly press releases and willingness to meet or speak with anyone from the press,maybe HFD should try and emulate him!


Anonymous 2:05PM,

The Hartford Fire Department, under the direction of Chief Huertas, is currently in bunker mentality mode when it comes to public information. They have had several good PIO's in recent history, but they haven't lasted. Mainly because they were doing their jobs very well and being open and very transparent with the Media and certain bloggers. Even after Huertas ordered them not not talk to certain media people and a certain blogger. So rather than do the right thing, Huertas chose to "kill the messengers" instead. How is that working out Charlie? And you are right, HFD needs a Brian Foley that understands his or her role as PIO. Foley has done more in the last couple years to build excellent working relationships between HPD , the media and bloggers. That is important when you need to get a message out, whether good or bad, but the transparency is important, and it definitely is a two way street. And to paraphrase a quote by CSP LT. Vance, "the big dog(the media) is always going to eat. PIO's need to decide if they are going to feed the big dog, or would they prefer the big dog to go through their trash to get their food" It is much easier and neater to feed them.

Anonymous said...

What info is it that you believe needs to be shared with this blog and the media?

Anonymous said...

Huertas has Lynch 'representing' him and the department, going around with her tablet trying to be nice to everyone, acting like she's a 'professional'. Who knows what she had to do to get this position.

Anonymous said...

Hey 5:23 ARE YOU IGNORANT OR DIMWITED ??? WHAT INFO YOU ASK???? "ALL OF IT" !!! Good and bad. At the end of the day the fire dept is a product/service that the taxpayers foot the bill for. Wouldn't it behoove them to promote their business on a frequent basis ????? Believe it or not ,it is ok to brag about yourself when you do a superb job. Also ,you don't "share" info to a "select" few . But then again by your comment, maybe you equate INFO with SECRETS !