The Day – Backus Checkup: Help City Park out of the rubble

Less than a tenth of a mile from the majestic Norwich Town Hall was a devastated courtyard, left to weeds, rubbish and graffiti after a nearby bank left nearly a decade ago.

On June 18, during the city’s traditional Juneteenth Day celebrations, the newly dedicated public space was named Jubilee Park. More than 100 people gathered for the celebration, which included moving music and poetry readings.

Noting the day’s importance in celebrating freedom and positive change, Backus Hospital President Donna Handley said the hospital’s involvement in the project is also a sign of change.

Jubilee Park included the unveiling of a mural. The mural, painted by Ben Keller, overlooks a small park that will be developed with financial support from Hartford HealthCare and Backus Hospital.

“Backus Hospital is a proud landmark in our city and region. But increasingly, our work must extend beyond the walls of the building. To truly heal, we need to reach out to our communities, participate in the work to make them healthier and safer places,” Handley said. “Our mission calls us to partner with elected officials and volunteers, community members and organizations. Just like that.”

The fenced-in yard – overlooked and easily ignored just a few months ago – is now turning heads with its stunning mural entirely covering a 50ft by 70ft wall. And soon, with work underway to make the park space safe and welcoming, it will be the site of live musical events, small gatherings, health information – and just plain relaxing.

“We are deeply grateful to Backus Hospital not only for their generosity, but also for the encouragement from their leaders to move forward with this community building activity,” said Adam Bowles, pastor of the church. adjacent to the castle and organizer of the project. “We took something broken and turned it into something beautiful.”

With help from Backus Hospital, Bowles and other volunteers and community leaders began working with Yale’s Urban Design Studio to completely transform the area into a safe and welcoming public place. Jubilee Park is expected to be completed in the spring.

Elizabeth “Libby” Marino is the Senior Communications Specialist for Backus Hospital. Backus Check-up is a regular column in The Times.

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