By LISA CAPOBIANCO
The Bristol Chamber of Commerce and the Bristol Development Authority kicked off its second economic development breakfast with a keynote message from public safety officers while honoring local businesses and organizations for their beautification efforts.
Held at the DoubleTree last Wednesday, the 2016 Annual Beautification Awards and Economic Development Breakfast recognized seven honorees who were selected by the chamber’s Beautification Committee and the BDA from nominations submitted by the community. All of these winners have made strides to beautify their property through landscaping, maintenance, or physical improvements over the past year.
Redman’s Trailers, which transformed a vacant and blighted site in Bristol’s West End neighborhood, received the Mayor’s Choice Award. Operating for over 50 years, Redman’s Trailers is now located at 120 Terryville Road (Route 72), providing customers a variety of camping needs, such as tent trailers and fifth wheels.
“It’s now a destination for people to come to Bristol,” said Mayor Ken Cockayne.
Family-owned and operated for over 20 years on Pine Street, Forestville, Oasis Restaurant received the Small Business Award, while GMN USA received the Large Business Award. A subsidiary of GMN Germany, a world-wide supplier of high-speed machine spindles, high precision ball bearings, freewheel clutches and seals, GMN USA relocated from Farmington to Southeast Bristol Business Park’s Lot No. 4.
“GMN took great pride in building their facility in the Southeast Bristol Business Park,” said BDA Executive Director Justin Malley. “That facility and [GMN’s] pride in that facility helped sell another lot across the street.”
Other businesses honored include Thomaston Savings Bank, which received the New Construction Award for its second Bristol location on Farmington Avenue (Route 6), and the Harry C. Barnes Nature Center, which received the Non-profit Award. Recently volunteers and staff worked together to complete the redesign of new exhibits while relocating and enhancing animal displays and adding landscaping that benefited wildlife.
Located at 175 Shrub Road, the nature center was the first landholding of the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut, Inc. (ELCCT) where people of all ages can learn about the importance of the natural world.
“This is really a community effort to reopen it,” said Scott Heth, executive director of ELCTT. “A lot of volunteers…really helped. A lot of community organizations helped.”
Nestled on Marsh Road, Chippanee Country Club now operates under a new ownership, a new pricing structure with membership incentives, and a new restaurant model that includes access for the public. Chippanee, which underwent major renovations to all areas of its grounds, received the Chamber Choice Award.
Gary Sassu, a golf pro and a fixture at the club for over 20 years, said after these changes took place, Chippanee’s membership has currently grown from 120 to 430.
“A couple of years ago, we were looking to be out of business,” said Sassu, thanking the community for its support. “We turned the place around.”
On the city side, Bristol Engine Company No. 4 received the Community Restoration Award. Completed this past July, renovations of the fire station on Vincent P. Kelly Road include private bunk rooms and separate shower rooms for men and women as well as a mechanical bay where repair work can be made on fire trucks.
“It’s absolutely beautiful, and this 100 percent fits the Community Restoration Award,” said Kristen Gorski, the BDA’s development and grants assistant.
Sponsored by TD Bank, Bristol Hospital, Comcast, Liberty Bank and Thomaston Savings Bank, the event also focused on how businesses and public safety officers can collaborate to keep Bristol safe. Keynote speakers included Bristol Police Chief Brian Gould, Bristol Fire Department Chief Jay Kolakoski, and Connecticut State Police Public Information Office Representative Trooper Kelly Grant.
“There’s no problem that’s too small,” said Gould.
Although advancements in technology have become a challenge for officers to engage one-on-one with the public, the Bristol Police Department has brought back various initiatives that enhance its efforts in its community policing philosophy, such as walk-in beats and bike patrols.
Detectives have gone out to local businesses, distributing pamphlets that give suggestions on taking preventative measures in the event of a robbery, how to collect evidence, etc.
“We’re here to serve you,” Gould told the business community.
Grant, who joined the state police department in 2001, echoed a similar message. Grant said the state police department goes beyond handing out tickets and investigating crimes.
“We’re always available and willing to speak with businesses about any issues—not just concerns and complaints,” said Grant, adding that state police want to hear the entire story from businesses after an incident. “Communication is key.”
Grant added that state police advise businesses about how to keep their buildings, campuses and employees safe.
“Troopers walk through businesses to help locate potential weak points,” said Grant. “Is it easy for someone to commit a burglary or robbery through one of those access points? How can employees stay safe during active threat situation, shooter or bomb threat? What can you do to help us help you if your business is a victim of a crime?”
Like the Bristol Police Department, the Bristol Fire Department also makes a presence in the business community through fire extinguisher trainings, emergency evacuation drills, and pointing out hazards in a building.
Local businesses also have access to business familiarization surveys.
“It allows us to get into your businesses… and find the best way into your building, the best way to ventilate your building if we have to,” said Kolakoski. “That allows us to do our job more efficiently, and it also allows us to prevent further damage to your building.”
Both Gould and Kolakoski reminded the business community about being prepared in the event of an emergency or incident.
“Natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, floods are not uncommon in this area,” said Kolakoski, warning businesses not to fall into the trap of complacency. “Understand that bad things do and will happen, but also understand why using all of the tools that are out there…you can handle anything that life throws you or at least lessen the effects of those things.”
“You have to have a plan,” said Gould, adding that the police department is available to conduct preliminary a walk-through in businesses to find hazards. “There’s a tremendous advantage to having situational awareness. Situational awareness is about training yourself to pay attention to these…signals about what’s going on around you.”