BRISTOL - Funding for phase one of the Memorial Boulevard Community Cultural Center Project and 750-seat theater totaling $13.3 million was approved by both the mayor’s Capital Improvement Program Committee and Board of Finance Tuesday night.
The issue of parking at the cultural center was addressed by Cheryl Thibeault, chairwoman of the finance board and member of the capital improvement committee, who said that if more funds are needed for parking, it could impact the project’s sustainability.
An appropriation of $400,000 was made previously for the design of Memorial Boulevard School, but that was not enough and another $200,000 is needed to finalize the design, explained Walter Veselka, director of public works.
The $13.3 million approved Tuesday night includes $500,000 for additional design costs.
When the design is finalized, a site plan can be made, which will address the parking issue, added Veselka.
Moving forward with the project, Thibeault said, could be complicated while there are other options for the building such as “the Board of Education was looking at funding for Memorial Boulevard to become a magnet school.”
Committee member John Smith said the other options should not interfere with phase one, which includes the theater and various structural improvements.
“Phase one has aspects that need to be done regardless of what the outcome is,” Smith said. “Phase one includes not only the theatre, but the balance of the building.”
Mayor Ken Cockayne assured the committee that the money doesn’t have to be spent immediately.
“There is time for the architects to finalize plans,” he said.
In the Board of Finance meeting held immediately after the committee meeting, a request to increase the bonding appropriation for phase one of the project was approved, with a caveat.
The finance board stipulated that of the $13.3 million appropriation no more than $500,000 can be spent. If more funds are needed to finalize the plans, they will have to be approved by the finance board.
The $13.3 million will cover phase one of the project.
Ron Burns and Mike Fiorini opposed the resolution.
“I’m concerned about the sustainability of the project after it is completed. I haven’t seen a business plan,” Burns said.
Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.