In recent years, weâ€™ve used this space to share with you our hopes and dreams for the coming year. This is our top 10 list - the things we want to see accomplished in 2018. Weâ€™ll be keeping an eye on progress as time goes on, and offer ideas on how to get things done.
Get a retailer and a restaurant to commit to Bristolâ€™s downtown.
Bristol Hospital has already stepped up to be a key resident of the Bristolâ€™s new downtown at Centre Square with their ambulatory services center, and the city has shovels - and a lot of heavy equipment - in the ground to build the core infrastructure. The pieces are coming together for a vibrant city center, but private businesses will get the project to critical mass. One building does not a downtown make.
Lure a good-size employer to our city centers.
Both New Britain and Bristol have been reasonably successful in bringing in new businesses and expanding operations of those that are already here. But thatâ€™s not going to be enough to revitalize our local economies.
We need to see a visible bounce in the number of good-paying jobs to tell the world itâ€™s a good investment. We need to compete more effectively against many other cities and towns that want the same thing, in Connecticut and elsewhere.
Increase support for our local baseball teams.
Weâ€™ve worked long and hard to bring high-level baseball to our area. New Britain Stadium and Muzzy Field are looking better than they have in years, and the Bees and the Blues offer quality play and family fun at every game. Both teams have made commitments for the long haul, and now itâ€™s our turn to make that commitment sustainable. More season tickets (with more fans at the park every day) and more signs in the outfield send a message that we not only want them here, but we want them to stay here.
Fill some empty storefronts with exciting, sustainable businesses.
In New Britain especially, weâ€™ve seen an exodus of Main Street businesses. The reasons are many - too few customers, tough parking, the wrong type of shops or restaurants. We need to not only help businesses open up, but stay open, too. Any one will grow when residents use their services and tell their friends to patronize them too. And why canâ€™t we have a few destination businesses? With Amatoâ€™s specialty toy store, East Side Restaurant, the New Britain Museum of American Art, the New England Carousel Museum and the Imagine Nation museum, along the museums and shops of Broad Street, weâ€™ve proven it can be done.
Solve the parking problem at CTfastrak.
Whether you were for or against the CTfastrak busway, this direct route from New Britain to Hartford with connections to Bristol and major centers in the region, itâ€™s built and operating every day. If used well, it can improve our transportation system and increase economic development everywhere along its path. Why has it taken so long to make necessary improvements to make parking available and convenient all along the way?
Some moves, such as expanding parking in Newington and the East Street station, are heading in the right direction, but how putting through direct access to the New Britain hub and the half-filled garage across the street is beyond us.
Finalize the financing and get the Columbus Common built.
We canâ€™t wait to see the dozens of market-rate apartments paired with affordable housing on the site of the old police station in New Britain. This, along with buildout of other new Main Street apartments by developer Avner Krohn, could be the first tests of the investment in transit-oriented development for the city. But itâ€™s critical that we keep the momentum up - announcements must lead to move-ins. Letâ€™s get those new residents using CTfastrak and providing demand for great new businesses.
Create more community tie-ins to CCSU.
Weâ€™re fortunate to have a great university just minutes away from the New Britain city core and accessible to the entire region â€“ even moreso due to CTfastrak. But mostly students and staff are fully aware of the possibilities it provides. Education, the arts and sports are all areas to tap in both directions - with the cities in need of help and the students in need of real-life experience, isnâ€™t it time we use the cities as a laboratory to try innovative experiments. Letâ€™s use all the brains we have here to make our government, nonprofits and businesses more efficient - maybe weâ€™ll be able to keep more of those educated men and women here after they graduate.
Plan a center of excellence in each school district.
Weâ€™ve always said that until a family moves to our communities for the schools (or at least one school), the rest of our investments are mere Band-Aids. We work very hard to keep at-risk kids connected, interested and involved by creating buildings and programs for them; we also need to meet the needs of those that are academically gifted. Letâ€™s make it possible for only residents to access these opportunities, and reward the students for staying nearby after they graduate. And then start selling!
Meet deadlines with government budgets.
This one goal would cut costs and relieve angst at every level. Every year, thanks to missed budget deadlines at almost every level, governments have to build budget plans and contingency upon contingency. Do our representatives understand that these take time - and time is money. Long-winded debates with little results help no one. Get the job done on time, and suddenly others can do their jobs - efficiently.
Reduce the need for housing, feeding and caring for the poor.
Education and jobs make it possible for most people to have a life without hunger and a roof over their head.
Without them, we guarantee a difficult time for many and an expensive burden for housing subsidies, food programs and health reimbursements for everyone. Letâ€™s make the investments up front to make their lives better now, instead of paying for the results later.
Thanks for considering our thoughts, and caring about the communities we live in. Now we want to get your feedback. Comment on our Facebook page, on the website at BristolPress.com or NewBritainHerald.com, or by mail to Michael Schroeder, Publisher, P.O. Box 1090, New Britain 06050.