Political Pandering In New Britain?

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A group working to  create a memorial park to honor the 65th Regiment from Puerto Rico, better known as the ‘Borinqueneers’ has discovered that the land the city said they could have under the former Mayor’s administration, does not belong to the city, but rather to the state.
An e-mail to those working on the project from Dan Garcia, the  Executive Director of the National  65th Regiment Historical Society on Wednesday stated, “There is a lot of speculation that former  Mayor Tim O’Brien and  Mr. Trueworthy may have used the granting of the land as a ploy to get votes.”
Tim O’Brien lost a close race to GOP Mayor Erin Stewart in New Britain and Michael Trueworthy, is the current Mayor Pro-Tempore and served in that position under O’Brien.
“Apparently group member, New Britain Alderman Willie Pabon ( R ), was working to get the deed to the land before the meeting so fundraising could begin, when the problem was discovered,” Garcia told CTLatinoNews.com.
While there are still many questions, the National 65th Regiment Historical Society Ex. Director, Dan Garcia said the group would discuss this new development at their executive board meeting tomorrow.  “We were led to believe, that it was city land.  And it was never refuted by the Mayor that it was not city land.  At an organizational meeting in November, before the election, O’Brien attended and stated he was glad the city could help,”  Garcia said.
In response to the speculation, Alderman Trueworthy said, “At the time, we passed it, I did not know who owned it .  To me, at some point, this has to be worked out.  I am a liaison to the Veteran’s Commission, that’s why my name was on that particular proposal.”
He added, ” I graduated from the Marine Corp Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia.  I fully support the project and will do anything to make it happen.  My job is not to pander, it’s to get things done.  I will do whatever I can.”
According to a story in the New Britain Herald, last October, after plans to have a monument at North and Oak streets fell through, Representative Bobby Sanchez (D) New Britain  approached Mayor Timothy O’Brien about locating the monument in the Beaver Street area.   O’Brien agreed and the New Britain City Council voted unanimously to sign off on building the monument at the corner of Beaver, LaSalle and Washington Streets and Farmington Avenue.

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Three CT residents who served in the “Borinqueneers” military unit attend the Veteran’s Day dedication service at the New Britain site. Photo: CTLatinoNews.com

The New Britain Herald story goes on to say, “while the monument will not be in place until next year, O’Brien said the corner of Beaver near LaSalle and Washington Streets and Farmington Avenue will officially be known as the 65th Infantry Regiment Park during a dedication on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.”
That Veteran’s Day dedication  took place at the new site for the National Memorial Park, which will honor the 65th Infantry – a segregated military unit – that endured discrimination on many levels and was based in Puerto Rico.   The 65th fought for the U.S. during World War I, World War II and the Korean War.
Garcia, who is neither a Democrat or Republican, but unaffiliated said,  “This new development will draw public outrage, but  we must continue to work together to  set the tone for how this will be dealt with by the Latino community.”  The project, he said, “has been gaining national attention and can not be sidetracked.”
CTLatinoNews.com  could not reach former Mayor Tim O’Brien for comment last night.
CTLatinoNews.com has written several stories on the New Britain Borinqueneers’ Memorial Park  effort and has agreed to serve as it media sponsor when they begin their fundraising efforts.


4 thoughts on “Political Pandering In New Britain?

  1. I know of no effort to reach me for comment on this story before running with this unfortunate false accusation. The site of the future Park was designed and always intended to be made into a park in New Britain as part of the Beaver Street construction project. It might have become just a generic park, but the City Council and I decided to make that future park in honor of the 65th. The city designating this location as the future location for this Park, in honor of the brave soldiers of the 65th and all veterans of Latino descent, was the right thing to do. I am proud to have lead the effort for that designation with Rep. Sanchez, in time so that the 65th Memorial Park could be made a part of last Fall’s Veterans Day ceremonies, making that honor forever, every year, a part of New Britain’s Veterans and Memorial Day monument ceremonies. While there are of course still things that the city needs to do to finish the Beaver Street construction and the park that is part of it, I would hope that the spirit of honoring veterans, which was my reason for doing this, will continue and that City Hall will follow through with all the steps needed to get this Park, in honor of the 65th, built.

  2. It was years ago that I first learned of the 65th Regiment and the story of the brave soldiers, mostly from Puerto Rico, who fought, suffered and died in courageous action. I learned about it, talking with people at the New Britain Puerto Rican Society – including from 65th Veterans, themselves. I felt strongly about the fact that their story is often forgotten – and it should not be. I have long wanted to give those brave soldiers the honor they deserve. That is why it meant a lot to me to be able, as Mayor, to honor those veterans, visibly in New Britain. I am proud to have done so. It was the right thing to do.

  3. Headline is misleading. The Resolution was sponsored with bipartisan support….allowing both political parties to “take credit” ….let’s not turn a wonderful celebration of our Borinqueneers into political hay……the property was never meant to be turned over to the group….it was always intended as a City Park….with a very special theme…..Honoring the 65th Regiment. My understanding is that this parcel is part of a larger renovation project in the Beaver St area. Let facts speak louder than speculation……

  4. Editor: This was a late breaking story and the writer was not able to access your phone number. Thanks you for your comments. The question of did you know, the land in question was not owned by the city is still not addressed. Would you please contact us at editor@ctlatinonews.com and we will be glad to update the story?

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