BRISTOL – Governor Ned Lamont has provided funding to Bristol in the form of $4,692,000 to be utilized for a parking structure for City Hall and further downtown development, along with an additional $1,200,000 to be utilized to reconstruct a retaining wall in Memorial Boulevard Park.
“We had originally asked them to fund half of an urban (project) and the governor funded the whole thing,” Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said. “In March, we received notification that the state of Connecticut was funding the urban act line item in the state budget. That had not been funded for several years.”
The mayor said years ago, the city through its economic and community development commission had been asking the state to help fund the downtown revitalization with little luck. Then funding “dried up” she said.
“State Representative Chris Ziogus said the urban act has money in it, you should reapply,” Zoppo-Sassu said. “We revamped our application because before it was for infrastructure. Everything we were hoping to get help with over five years ago, we did it ourselves.”
The mayor said the city asked in its original bond request for the state to meet the city halfway for $4.6 million in funding.
“We told them we’d issue municipal bonds for the balance of the cost,” she said. “We need to construct a municipal parking structure behind the police department as a necessity because of the city’s downtown development success. Lots of the postal workers, city hall workers and customer parking will be displaced once (Centre Square) construction begins in spring. So we needed somewhere else.”
The city is looking to build a parking structure with 132 spaces for automobiles in the lot to the rear of the police station with three levels, including the ground level.
“I got notice that not only are they going to put us on the bond commission agenda for next Friday, July 23, they are giving us the entire cost of the project,” said the mayor. “The bond commission is composed of high level state officials and they’re the gatekeepers (of state financing) to help projects. They do not meet often.”
Zoppo-Sassu said the city deserved to be recognized as a developing area and felt that the further funding was proof the state was seeing that as well. Funding for the retaining wall came as a request of Ziogas, she said. The mayor said the representative showed Lamont recent construction projects in Memorial Boulevard Park, among them was the retaining wall replacement.