Bristol mayor gives state of the city

Published on Thursday, 29 June 2017 21:54
Written by SUSAN CORICA

STAFF WRITER

BRISTOL - The Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce will move to a new location on North Main Street, probably in mid-July.

Cindy Scoville, chamber president/CEO, made the official announcement at the organization’s annual State of the City & Towns Breakfast, held at Chippanee Country Club Thursday.

The chambers of commerce are currently at 200 Main St. “We love our space but we’ve outgrown it,” she said. “We need a little bit more modernized space to have offices, with a really great training room because I want to do some free training programs for our members.”

The new location will be 440 North Main St., above the Tunxis Career Center, Scoville said. “It’s a great partnership we have with them and it allows us to sometimes use their facility as well.”

The breakfast was a chance for leaders from area municipalities to talk about what’s going on in their town or city.

Mayor Ken Cockayne gave a quick snapshot of Bristol, as a city of 61,000 residents, with “one of the state’s largest and best maintained park systems,” and a variety of museums and other attractions.

“Bristol has one of the most affordable costs of living in the region,” he noted, earning it the Hartford Magazine’s 2013 ranking as “as one of Greater Hartford’s Best Bangs for the Buck.”

The city continues to be a leader in manufacturing, especially in the making of “precision mechanical springs and other parts for the aerospace and medical industries as well as U.S. military,” he said.

ESPN, “the nation’s first and largest all-sports television network,” remains the largest taxpayer in town, contributing over $7 million in annual taxes, Cockayne said.

“It has never been a more exciting time to be in Bristol,” he continued. “We are on a mission, focused on several key initiatives, designed to safeguard Bristol’s long-term success.”

“A key factor to our financial health is our bond rating,” he said. “We are so fortunate and proud to have a AA bond rating from Moody’s, a AA+ rating from Standard and Poor’s and a AAA rating from Fitch Ratings. These are excellent ratings for our demographics.”

The ratings agencies have praised “Bristol’s conservative financial management and budgeting practices,” Cockayne said.

Growth in the grand list, new development and expansion in the new industrial park in the southeast part of the city, and business incentives such as tax abatements and economic development grants have all contributed to the city’s financial standing, he said.

The city’s All Heart campaign is part of a “business-friendly marketing strategy aimed at showcasing Bristol to both existing and potential residents, business owners and visitors,” Cockayne said.

The city recently signed a contract with Bristol Hospital to sell them four acres in the downtown Centre Square for construction of a 60,000-square-foot medical complex, he said. “This project lays the groundwork needed to jumpstart future development in our downtown.”

“In addition, the city will begin construction of Centre Square’s first roadway and streetscape in order to support private development on the site,” he said. “We continue to aggressively market Centre Square for additional development and I’m encouraged that there is already real interest from other developers.”

“Along with economic development the war on blight continues to be a major initiative for this administration. We continue our efforts to clean up neighborhoods with code enforcement education and enforcement when necessary,” he said.

Crime has dropped in the past two years, work on creating a cultural center at the old Memorial Boulevard School is progressing, and the former federal-funded Army Strong Center has successfully transitioned to the new Veterans Strong Center, Cockayne continued.

The city is facing cuts in state funding at the state legislature struggles to pass a 2017-18 budget, he said. “We will continue to keep a watchful eye on the state and passionately advocate at the state level for Bristol’s fair share.”

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or scorica@bristolpress.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, Central CT Chamber of Commerce, Forestville, General News on Thursday, 29 June 2017 21:54. Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2017 21:56.