New Britain's "Borinqueneers" Park Is Back On Track



The city is on track to become the first in the country to dedicate a park and a monument recognizing the Borinqueneers 65th Infantry Regiment — the only active-duty Puerto Rican military unit in U.S. history.
The Common Council is expected Wednesday to approve transferring state-owned land at 246 Beaver St. to become city-owned land. The acquisition of 246 Beaver St. will be at no cost to the city.
For many months, city officials were under the impression that the land on Beaver Street belonged to the city. It appeared that city leaders in 2013 had not taken the time to check the land records on the property before setting up dedication events. Some even accused then-Mayor Timothy O’Brien of trying to push through the dedication near the election for political reasons — a charge he vehemently denied.
In any case, those hoping to build the park and monument now say that — if, as expected, the council approves the transfer Wednesday — massive fund-raising efforts will begin. Organizers say they hope the corner of Beaver Street, near LaSalle and Washington streets and Farmington Avenue, will become the monument’s home before Veterans Day (Nov. 11) 2015.
New Britain state Rep. Bobby Sanchez, who has led the effort at the state level to the get the monument, estimates that development of the memorial park and monument will cost about $500,000.
He said it’s not clear how large the monument will be, but said, “We want it to be really big. These are veterans that fought in the Army, Navy and Marines for our country.” The 65th Infantry fought for the U.S. during World War I, World War II and the Korean War.
Sanchez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, said he had two uncles who fought in the infantry in Korea. Both were awarded Purple Hearts, he said.
Alderman Manny Sanchez, Bobby Sanchez’s nephew, who is helping to coordinate efforts and fundraising locally, said Monday, “This directly affects our community as a whole.”
About 30 percent of the city’s 73,000 residents are Latino.
“We’ve done a great justice by honoring our Polish community time and time again,” Manny Sanchez said. “This is another piece in highlighting New Britain, with regard to our Latino community.”
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