To the Editor:
I want to thank our city council members, Calvin Brown, Mary Fortier and Dave Preleski for holding office hours at the Bristol Public Library this morning. I found it to be very informative. It was an open forum where the public could ask questions of the council and voice their concerns.
The topic that I found I was the most interested in was the discussion involving Memorial Boulevard School. My understanding is that there are currently three options for the school. The first and most important to me was developing the school into a performing arts center. This is a great asset to the city and should be considered an important part to developing the downtown. It would draw people into the city which in turn would help local business.
The second option was to move city hall into the school and also update the theater. This plan could limit the performing arts center by not having enough room to have dance studios and other rooms that would go along with the theater.
The third option that was being floated was a magnet school was interested in the property. Although this option could have financial help from bonding through the state, how much would the city be able to use it for public use (ie. Bristol Choral Society, Bristol Brass and Wind Ensemble)?
These are items that need to be addressed now. The city has an extremely high bonding rate and almost $30 million in the rainy day fund.
Why is the city not using these funds to invest in itself?
Did you know that it really would not increase taxes to make this happen? By creating reasons to come into the city, more people would have money to spend in the city. Now is the time to take action.
Kenneth B. Cockayne has been in office too long. The Bristol mall site has been vacant since 2008 (Nine years if you are counting). Nov. 20, 2008 is also the year that Schoenhardt submitted a report to the city about renovating Memorial Boulevard into a performing arts center. Yet here we are. What are we waiting for? Nothing will happen if everyone just talks about it. I think the citizens of Bristol need to make their voices heard. Now is the time to start calling City Hall (860-584-6100) and your local council members and demand action.
Thank you for helping to get Memorial Boulevard at the top of the development list. We need a reason to get people into the city. That starts with development, not with tearing down blight. Thanks again to Calvin Brown, Mary Fortier and Dave Preleski. Please keep up the good work.