Amid COVID-19 and protests, local town leaders came together to share community updates and future plans during the Central CT Chambers of Commerce’s annual “State of the Cities and Towns.”
“We are in such a different environment than we were four months ago,” Jay Sattler, the outgoing chair of the Chamber Board, said. “In these challenging times I want to thank our leaders for working to make our communities a better place to live, work and do business.”
When Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu got up to speak, one thing she mentioned was the recently passed 0.79% budget increase, which she said was the result of a lot of negotiation and hard work to bring costs down. She also highlighted the development of downtown, which she said the city intended to transform into a new hub.
In addition to the Bristol Health building on Centre Square downtown, she said 12 apartment complexes would be built with retail space below them. She also stated a public parking lot is being constructed on Hope Street, and parking will also be added on Riverside Avenue.
Another development she talked about was Carrier Construction will be building 36 townhouses on Main Street, and The Pines will also be breaking ground on a $26 million construction project.
Zoppo-Sassu also touched upon the transformation of the Memorial Boulevard School into an arts magnet school, which is expected to be complete in 2023.
“In addition to improving the quality of life for those seeking an arts education it will also include the community theater which will bring more people into the city,” she said.
Zoppo-Sassu also mentioned DoubleTree by Hilton’s plans to expand their facility and the fact that 17 acres of land was being cleared on Middle Street across from ESPN for potential future development along a busy corridor.
She said now that the construction on Route 6 had finally ended, the traffic flow had also improved.
“Bristol is well positioned for next year and beyond,” Zoppo-Sassu concluded.
In Plymouth, Mayor David Merchant informed everyone on how the town had to cancel most of their events that would have honored the town’s 225th anniversary. Due to this, along with the cancelation of the Terryville Fair and the Memorial Day Parade, he said residents had come to see it as a “lost year.”
Even though these events have been canceled, Plymouth is still holding a drive-thru graduation for high school seniors.
“We felt we needed to do something, even if it’s not what the kids wanted or deserved,” he said.
Merchant also touched upon the town budget, and how they had a zero tax increase.
“Any increase would be rubbing salt in the wound,” he said. “The community is facing a lot of unemployment.”
In the future, Merchant wants to build a new police department, and he stated he may have a referendum vote on bonding for it in the fall. He also said Domino’s Pizza will be coming to the former Terryville Trust site later this summer, and in addition to Domino’s, he said he expected to also see two new businesses coming in to the business park this summer. He also added he expected to move forward on the sale of the old Prospect Street School soon.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.