While we donâ€™t have a crystal ball at City Hall, we do have a sense of some of the good news that will be making a splash over the next 12 months:
1. Bristol will be counted in the 2020 Census. Obtaining a full, fair, and accurate count of everyone is essential for representation and federal funding. Unfortunately, the conditions exist for a severe undercount nationwide, specifically among people of color, children, immigrants and people with disabilities. Stay tuned for the cityâ€™s Diversity Council approach to ensuring everyone in Bristol is counted starting in March.
2. Downtown will see construction. 2020 should see new construction on Main Street, on the corner of Riverside and North Main, and new businesses filling vacant space such as at the Funck building, former Eagle Federal, public art, and new restaurants in the former Supernatural and Mason Jar spaces on North Main. New construction is also being proposed on the corner of Rt. 6 and North Main at the long vacant Mamatseos parcel! There is also new streetscape coming to Riverside a new parking lot off of Hope St., with a walkway connecting it to Main Street.
3. The future workforce builds on our past. Bristol is leading the way in creating pathways to good jobs and careers at the high schools, at Bristol Adult Education, and by creating partnerships with the Chamber of Commerce, American Jobs Center and local companies. Similar to the good paying jobs during Bristolâ€™s industrial peak, health care and manufacturing sector jobs are booming. Bristol has dozens of companies that are competing international markets, making products that are shipped across the world.
4. Housing instability and homelessness will lessen. Although the challenges of homelessness, out-of-town investor landlords and deteriorated housing will not be solved during 2020, code enforcement progress and nonprofit support like The Agape House and Brianâ€™s Angels make us All-Heart.
5. A Commitment to Shop Local. A drastic emptying of storefronts makes people take notice. As leases end and closures occur along Rt. 6, people saw the real impact that internet purchases have on bricks and mortar stores. We are happy to say that there are going to be several big announcements about new names coming to Rt. 6 in the next few months. We need to support these businesses, as well as the ones who are here now, whenever we can. A special shout out to Bristolâ€™s 2 breweries- Firefly and Better Half; the 2 new coffee shops â€“ Real CafĂ© and The Roasted Bean, as well as to JR & Leanne Rusgrove for their third and newest venture, Pure Foods, coming this spring. Local entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well!
6. The community will turn the corner on opioid and substance misuse. It is our hope that the community videos we produced help families talk about this issue and seek help. The Police Department and Bristol Hospital are working together to divert people from arrest to recovery. We also have recovery coaches in the community, a drug disposal box in the Police Dept. lobby, and health care partners like the hospital, Wheeler Clinic and Community Health Partners ready to assist those who need it.
7. The city will make investments in sustainable infrastructure. From virtual net metering to help lower the cityâ€™s electric bills, to solar panel on school roofs and at the capped landfill, Bristolâ€™s Energy Commission is moving ahead to implement a thoughtful plan to help the City save money, and the environment. The city is also meeting goals in the Plan of Development by acquiring Open Space for future generations.
8. Parks for all is the theme for the year. The Parks Department is undergoing a Master Plan to determine priorities for the next 10 years, hatching an innovative Pop-Up Parks plan to bring parks into neighborhoods this summer, as well as anticipating a new Page Park Pool, which hadnâ€™t been updated since the 1950s.
9. Leadership Matters. We have a great mix of new and established Department Heads for the City, with a great mix of experience and new ideas. Public service is a hard job when you have 60,000 bosses. The City Council and I truly appreciate the enthusiasm and professionalism of all our employees and their commitment to their roles.
10. Volunteers Matter. There are dozens of city boards that rely on citizens to make policy decisions. They are serving on the panel to plan for the Memorial Boulevard magnet school and theater renovation, the Board of Finance, land-use boards, and more. We are always looking for people to volunteer, as are the multitude of non-profits, museums and civic organizations like the Mum Festival who contribute to our quality of life. Visit www.bristolct.gov to see all the city has to offer. Itâ€™s also not too late for a New Yearâ€™s resolution for you to make 2020 an even better year for Bristol.
Ellen Zoppo-Sassu is the mayor of Bristol.