MAYOR'S CORNER: Transformational changes for this 'big small town'

Published on Sunday, 5 December 2021 14:10
Written by Jeff Caggiano

The first month in office has been busy here at City Hall. Transformational changes are already happening.

Since being sworn in on Nov. 8, the new six-member City Council team has been assigned to City Boards and Commissions. In less than one week, we had to completely reorganize our City government and run our first City Council meeting. This was no small task. We are taking the time to get to know the inner workings of City Hall, and the new City Councilors and I have attended events and visited businesses to introduce ourselves and to let the community know we are here to listen and will continue to encourage people to be engaged in our local government. We are planning public meet and greets and look forward to your input.

Just 10 days into our administration, we were able to appoint a new Fire Chief thanks to a search that was going on for 10 months by the Fire Board. After personally meeting him the weekend after our inauguration, Chief Richard Hart was sworn in as Bristol’s new Fire Chief on Nov. 18. The new administration and I look forward to working with Chief Hart and the Fire Board to transform the fire department to ensure the City has the skilled firefighters needed to replace all those that will be retiring in the coming months and in order to keep Bristol safe.

We have inherited the many projects underway in the enterprise zone downtown. The foundation to the heart of our city is coming together and it is time to complete these projects and transform our City. The KindCare Assisted Living project at the north end of North Main Street is scheduled to break ground in the next few weeks. The Wheeler Clinic project in Centre Square was pushed back a month so that the new administration could have the time to get up to speed on this project. While we will take final action on this project at our next City Council Meeting, we also are making progress at the Sessions building with remediation on the site planned for early 2022 and site planning and imminent purchase and sales agreements on two other projects in Centre Square.

Finally, the 15-member appointed ARPA Task Force will now meet twice a month to determine the best use for Bristol’s allocated $28 million in ARPA funding. As I said to the task force, “these Federal funds are borrowed funds from future generations, but can be a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a legacy for our grandkids.” In that vein, Bristol began “urban revitalization” 60 years ago in 1961, and the next few years will be vital to finally transform our downtown to a vibrant economic engine once again. An online application portal for ARPA funding, along with accompanying marketing materials will be released the week of Dec. 13. Bristol businesses and nonprofits will be invited to apply for the first round of $24 million with a submission deadline of Jan. 31, 2022. City projects will also be submitted for consideration during this first round of funding which will aid in post-COVID infrastructure projects.

I want to thank the Bristol community for entrusting me to lead this great city. I look forward to “Building a Better Bristol” and transforming this “big small town” with all of you.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, Column, Editorials on Sunday, 5 December 2021 14:10. Updated: Sunday, 5 December 2021 14:13.