Making Batterson Park a Regional Destination AgainMarch 24, 2021
Speaker of the House Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) announced a multi-million dollar effort to restore Batterson Park, the long-shuttered Hartford-owned former recreation area straddling Farmington and New Britain.
"Batterson Park is a lost natural gem with incredible potential, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need for more outdoor spaces that area families and residents can enjoy," said Ritter, who is proposing to fund the project through a state bonding allocation. "This would be a significant multi-million-dollar investment in restoring Batterson Park back into a regional recreational asset – that is my goal."
Fellow legislators Rep. Mike Demicco of Farmington, Rep. Peter Tercyak of New Britain and Rep. Edwin Vargas of Hartford also participated in the announcement.
Batterson has been closed to the public since 2015, and both its natural assets and infrastructure have deteriorated from a lack of use and maintenance over the years.
It has a storied history though as a popular summer destination for thousands of day visitors back in the 1950s through the early 1980s, who enjoyed the large lake, picnicking and recreational amenities, which included food concessions, a pavilion, and basketball courts.
Swimmers at Batterson Park during the 1930s. (Kathy Kraczkowsky)
Ritter said the key to moving the project forward is the positive working relationship between the three municipalities – Hartford, Farmington and New Britain. "This is a great example of regional cooperation and towns advocating together for a common goal," he said.
Located about 10 miles from Hartford's center, the current property spans over 500 acres with about 200 acres of parkland including the 165-acre lake. The lake was originally used as a drinking water reservoir before the Hartford Water Department donated the tract to the Parks Department in 1928. The park was named after Hartford's mayor at the time Walter Batterson.
As recently as 2015 an eastern region waterskiing competition was held at Batterson Park sponsored by the New Britain/Berlin Rotary Club. Following Batterson's heyday as a regional park attraction, smaller parcels were sold off to West Hartford and Farmington, with Hartford also transferring 86 acres to the City's pension fund.