What would you like to see happen with Memorial Boulevard School?
I have been an advocate for creating for the renovation of the Memorial Boulevard School for eight years. Creating a major attraction including a state of the art theater, and a municipal use for the remainder of the building, is an important cog in the redevelopment of our downtown.
Currently, monies have been provided to design the theater space. It will include seating for 750, new seating, lighting, sound and many other amenities. When completed, it will provide a space for many major attractions, providing an entertainment venue second to none.
The remainder of the school has to be taken into consideration as it will provide the economic engine to fund the building. The theater alone, will not be able to sustain the building financially.
Currently, there are three options being discussed. One is a magnet school, dependent on a state grant, moving City Hall, and the last is moving the Board of Education operations, and Youth Services to the building.
Each of these options will provide the financial stability for the building. Each will have to be fully vetted and space does not allow for explanation of each option. Each has merit and needs to be explored. Time is of the essence and decisions need to be made as soon as possible.
How do you feel about the progress of revitalizing the city’s downtown?
Questions 1 and 2 are interrelated. Turning MBS into a destination is critical to the downtown development. With this attraction as an anchor, the hospital project will provide consistent traffic to the area. It will be a great compliment with daytime traffic along with the municipal side of MBS. Daytime programming including movies, lectures, and exhibits can also be a catalyst for traffic.
The hospital building is the start of other building projects. The mayor has reported serious interest in another area of the property. If this occurs, the entire area will come alive. Additional amenities will be needed , such as restaurants, offices, and convenience stores, etc.
A vision and plan for the entire space should be completed. This will allow us, the city, to go after the desired attractions.
Time is of the essence. Progress is being made, but the other steps must be taken.
Which phrase do you agree with… Bristol is a city on the rise or Bristol is a city in stagnation? Why do you feel that way? If it’s on the rise, what can be done to ensure that direction is maintained? If you feel it’s stagnant, how can we get ourselves “unstuck?”
Bristol has not been stagnant. The aforementioned projects will kick start the development of downtown. I do believe that a vision has to be created. “What is Bristol? “Who are we, and what is our identity.” This step is critical. Once decided, a plan has to be implemented to reach our goals. A plan of action makes us proactive vs reactive. This prevents us from becoming stagnant.