March 14, 2005
KENEY PARK AND PILOTS
By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst
You asked the following questions regarding Keney Park:
1. Who owned the land before it became a park and when was the park established?
2. How did it come to be located in Hartford and Windsor?
3. Was there an agreement between Hartford and Windsor regarding the maintenance and use of the Windsor portion of the park and payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) with regard to this portion?
4. What led to the court case that resulted in Hartford making PILOTs to Windsor?
The Keney family bought land straddling the Hartford-Windsor line in the late 19th century. Henry Keney (1806-1894), a prominent Hartford merchant, bequeathed the land to the city of Hartford and provided funds to turn the land into a park. The park was built in the early 20th century.
Historically, Hartford maintained the entire park, which was open to the public. There were originally no agreements between Hartford and Windsor regarding its use or PILOTs.
In the late 1980s, Hartford engaged American Golf, Inc. to manage the golf courses in Keney Park and Goodwin Park, which straddles the Hartford-Wethersfield line. The golf courses are located in Windsor and Wethersfield, respectively. Wethersfield assessed the golf course for property taxes as a commercial business. Hartford sued Wethersfield, but ultimately entered into a stipulated agreement with the town in which it agreed to make a PILOT based on the golf course's revenues. In 1991, Windsor entered into a parallel settlement with Hartford with regard to the Keney Park golf course. Under this agreement, Hartford's payment is 20% of the revenues generated by the golf course. Last year the PILOT was $38,000 according to Steven Kosofsky, the Windsor town assessor. He notes that this payment is substantially less than the taxes that would be otherwise payable on the golf course.