By State Rep. Douglas McCrory
Mayor Pedro Segarra announced Minor League Baseball is coming to Hartford after the Rock Cat’s have decided to make Hartford their new home.
But is this the best option for the Capitol City?
Are we dedicating too much of our time and resources to a playground for future millionaire baseball players and billionaire owners? It’s a strong possibility we are. We should use the $60 million to create, allure and maintain year-round businesses that will not only bring in additional tax dollars to the City but will provide jobs and services to the residents who actually live here and need it the most considering we have an unemployment rate approaching 20 percent.
I don’t agree that this is the right time to spend over $60 million on a new stadium in Hartford. But I would propose, Mayor Segarra and city council representatives, that if you are going to create between 500 and 1,000 jobs, those jobs should go to Hartford residents. That should go into the contract if it is not already there. These people need work, so why not allow them to work on this new playground in their backyard? I am leery that this project will create that many jobs, but any available job should go to Hartford residents looking for work considering the jobs will be temporary and mostly part-time. Thank God we’re raising the minimum wage.
Hartford contractors, and more specifically, minority contractors should be given priority to bid on this project. We have heard too many times recently that minority contractors will be used for projects in Hartford, but that just hasn’t been the case. If this is going to be a Hartford project, truly make it a Hartford project by getting the city residents involved and employed, after all, our taxes are funding the project. Consider what happened with the MLB Washington Nationals. The people in their community were given first priority for employment. Viewing this as a benefit, the community ultimately supported the project which was a win-win for all parties involved.
Also, does it not raise concern that $60 million was seemingly found overnight for baseball? We have had the community voicing their concerns for years that we need a new Martin Luther King Jr. school, among many other needed improvements. If you walk around that school, it’s like a building from the pre- Brown vs Board of Education era. What a shame because it’s named for one of the greatest Americans of all time.
We need to be smart about how we are spending the money we have and be very careful in how we invest in the future of the Capitol City. Our tax base needs to be expanded and our citizens need to be employed with livable wages. This can be done by improving the quality of our education efficiently and tackle improvements on the infrastructure of the city. I believe, this is how we can uplift our city and make it a true rising star where people will want to live and raise their families.
The thought behind this project is correct: something needs to change in Hartford. As Connecticut’s Capitol City, providing entertainment is great but we should also ensure Hartford’s community and economic development are a priority. Our focus should be on the best way to get people back to work and have students thriving in school. Then we can talk about a playground for future millionaires.