11-30-2017 Hartford Commission ignores bid to save Huffman building, says goodbye to outgoing Mayor

Hartford Commission ignores bid to save Huffman building, says goodbye to outgoing Mayor Johnson and OKs medical marijuana ordinance

By Jon Bisnett

Monday, November 20, 2017 was Mayor Ted Johnson’s final meeting in office; the Hartford City Commission moved on with demolition as it rebuffed yet another Huffman Building hopeful, honored its’ outgoing mayor, received a thumbs up financial audit and approved a controversial ordinance paving the way for state regulated Medical Cannabis Businesses within the city limits.


KUDOS TO HARTFORD MAYOR TED JOHNSON… came in the form of a Gover-nor’s proclamation delivered by 66th District State Representa-tive Beth Griffin Monday, No-vember 20, recognizing his dec-ades of service to the citizens of the City of Hartford in the role of mayor. The presentation was the first of two such awards on the evening as City Manager Yemi Akinwale also presented Johnson with a plaque on behalf of the city saluting the Mayor on his final evening presiding over City Commission proceed-ings. (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)

Bob Gerbel of Gerbel and Company PC, made his annual appearance to deliver the results of the City’s financial audit. The determination of a clean and unqualified opinion is what Gerbel calls the “Cadillac of opinions.”

The city retains an equity fund of 87.3% which is the equivalent to 10 months of an unfunded operational budget.

Regan Cronin, who appeared before the council to pitch her concept to save the Huffman Building, presented herself as a 5th generation Hartford family. She shared her vision to restore the building into second story office space and a first floor retail coffee shop in the style of the Good Earth Café she currently operates in River Forest, Illinois.

With a demolition order already in process and countless unsuccessful attempts by City Manager Akinwale to work with current owner Aaron Blaylock, the Commissioners were not interested in any vision not accompanied with a formal business plan, a timetable and some proof of financial ability to tackle a project previously estimated to be between a $500,000 to a $1,000,000 renovation.

Cronin presented the city with a short 3-page document containing only a brief conceptual overview and two of the three pages containing a floor plan and photo of her River Forest coffee shop.

Commissioners took no action to stave off the demolition. “She gave us nothing… No business plan… Nothing,” said Commissioner Frank Dockter. His counterparts agreed. A previously bid asbestos study will take place next to be added to the requirements of remediation for demolition bids.

Lastly, former mayor Dan Danger spoke of his extreme displeasure of recent inspections by the office of the contracted City Assessor firm for a representative showing up in his back yard with a camera and not identifying himself, no ID nor even responding to Danger’s questioning, rather just to walk away. A short discussion resulted in the City’s apology and that the firm would be contacted immediately and required to come up with ID badges as are the standard with public utility workers before performing any more assessments in the city.


 The December City Council Workshop/ Business Meetings will be combined on Monday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 9 will be Christmas in Hartford with the Lighted Parade at 6:00 p.m. followed by Santa’s visit to the Library jointly sponsored by the Lions Club.

City Manager’s Report