What would you like to see happen with Memorial Boulevard School?
I really like the idea of a magnet school at the boulevard. If the state money is available, we can accomplish the theater project and provide for specialized education at the same time while limiting the use of city money. I have not seen any budget numbers for on-going operations but that would be my first choice. I’d like to expand our city’s technical education program for manufacturing jobs and, although we may be limited by any state grant we get, the MBS site could meet that need. It’s a perfect fit with our region’s manufacturing base. There would be enough other space in the building available for other alternatives uses.
How do you feel about the progress of revitalizing the city’s downtown? What more should or can be done?
When the hospital project was first presented, I was very encouraged. While it’s not perfect in terms of what we wanted to see in that location, it’s going to be a very nice building in which 250 or more employee and countless users will visit daily. The theory is that increased foot traffic will lead to service providers like restaurants or pubs or personal service providers who will want a piece of that market . Again, in theory, once other developers see this first venture progress, we should see some other investment activity.
Justin Malley of the Bristol Development Authority and I have worked on another layer of business incentives designed to attract business downtown. I’ve spoken with economic development officials from out of town who agree that the incentive packages offered by towns is extremely important. We need to realize we are in competition with area towns who want to attract business or take it away from us. In order to compete, we need to be more aggressive. Bristol lags in some key areas investors look at so we need to even the market place.
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 is a city on the rise and we have received recognition as a city that provides good value for the buck. We have a housing stock at all price ranges in safe, mature neighborhoods. We are strong financially, we have wonderful parks, a terrific school system and provide quality city services. What we need is to be proactive and prepare for additional financial pressure we can anticipate as a result of the state budget problem. That requires a new way of thinking from municipal leaders who have experience to take us to the next level.