To the Editor:
This is in response to the letter written by Peter Del Mastro. The letter that I submitted to the Bristol Press was speaking about the whopping $2.4 million that the city has spent on blight and getting rid of houses that do not necessarily need to be taken down. Mr. Del Mastro criticized the numbers that I used in my response. Those numbers are directly from the Bristol Finance Board, so they are in fact correct. Our city has spent too much time and money on blight. Instead of spending millions of taxpayer dollars on blight, why don’t we improve upon the beautiful landscape we have downtown? I understand that Bristol Hospital is building an office building downtown, but that is not all we need to revitalize the downtown area. We need restaurants and other shops downtown. The few shops we do have downtown are mostly fast food restaurants or coffee shops. We have Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, Supernatural, and McDonalds, as well as the Ice Cream Churn in the downtown area. Instead of pushing back plans to move forward, we should try and utilize the $28 million in the rainy day fund. There is no reason to have $28 million in a rainy day fund. I understand having some extra cash in the fund, but to have $28 million in that account is outrageous! Our schools need funding for special education and regular education and here we are with extra money in a rainy day fund and we are doing nothing with it.
Peter talked about the progress that has been made under Ken Cockayne. What progress? There has been no progress in the last 10 years I have lived in this city. The mayor continues to celebrate putting hospital office buildings on the empty mall site and renovations of roadways in the surrounding area. Why? We need something to draw people to downtown! There should be restaurants or small businesses to draw people in. All there have been are dirty campaigns and legal issues within the City Council. At the last City Council meeting, our mayor blatantly lied on the record about where the accrued legal fees were coming from. The legal fees are coming from an investigation that was started by the Republican Town Council into an issue that the mayor had with someone working under him. This is use of taxpayer money to pay for the legal fees of the mayor. This should not be. Never have I seen someone push away progress and growth in a downtown such as our own. We have a unique downtown area, one that has many historic buildings. The Memorial Boulevard is a historic building. While I understand it takes time to build plans and organize funding and build or renovate buildings there are certain things to take into account.
First, the Memorial Boulevard School has been sitting empty for five years! Five years! That school closed its doors to students in 2012 and the two K-8 schools opened. Second the Depot Square has been empty for nine years. We have more businesses leaving the downtown area because there is nothing to do for young people in the downtown area. However, we will never be short on senior housing or apartment units. We have plenty of housing units, too many if you ask me. I like that the old schools that closed down are being used for something, but want to see progress on the Memorial Boulevard School. We have had committee on top of committee about what to do with the school. A decision needs to be made. The ceiling in the auditorium over the balcony seats needs to be repaired. That auditorium is meant to house performances. Instead of standing still and debating, why doesn’t our town council take action instead of doing nothing? I applaud our Democratic Town Council for fighting for the people in this town. They are trying to make progress and do something to move forward.
Why aren’t the Republicans fighting for their constituents? Are they afraid of the development of downtown? Are they afraid that using the Memorial Boulevard School as a performing arts center might actually bring in money to the city?
If they don’t try to do something soon, we should send a message in the fall elections. We cannot stand by and watch the city fall into shambles because no one is doing anything.
For anyone concerned about the Memorial Boulevard there is a meeting about it on March 20 at City Hall in the Council Chambers at 6:30 p.m. If you want to know what is going on with the school, attend this meeting and make your voice heard!