What would you like to see happen with Memorial Boulevard School?
I would like to see the renovated theater bringing people to the downtown area to attend shows and concerts. This would be a big step in making Bristol a destination. Restaurants opening in town would make us a much more attractive option with the theater as a draw. A performing arts and science magnet school within the Memorial Boulevard building would pair nicely with the theater. This is providing money is available to fund this from the state. There is a strong connection between a vibrant arts scene and strong economic development. This would be a mutually beneficial partnership. A small pub style eatery in the basement of the school would be something worth exploring as well.
How do you feel about the progress of revitalizing the city’s downtown? What more should or can be done?
I understand municipal projects and progress take time, but we have been moving at a snail’s pace. Citizens who Dave Preleski and I have met with while knocking on doors, have voiced their frustration with the pace of development. The fact that the mayor chose to hop on a bulldozer with 36 days left before being voted out of office is amusing. The economic development he touts solicits him as opposed to him soliciting it. We need a leader who is proactive with vision, intelligent, and has the ability to move from words to action. Now, we must sell retailers and restaurants on Depot Square and the downtown area in general. Grant money to attract new businesses must be used more effectively. Incidental, fall-in-our-lap accomplishments are not enough to make real progress on downtown. Memorial Boulevard School, Depot Square, the surrounding area, and the Pequabuck River can be tied together in a cohesive plan. We need to attract commerce from neighboring communities, along with keeping local money in town. If 10 Main St. makes sense monetarily to become the new City Hall, and the present location does not become another vacant lot, I would support that move. Mayor Ken Cockayne has had his chance at downtown development, and fumbled the opportunity. I am hopeful the voters of Bristol will give Ellen Zoppo-Sassu and her team a chance. If they do, they will be impressed with the results.
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?”
Once again, to answer this question, I am going to reference the good people of Bristol. Questionably timed photo opportunities aside, people feel not enough is being down to revitalize the city. Businesses that would have moved here anyway, are presented by the mayor as victories. Restaurants that close or move elsewhere, as well as businesses that leave or go out of business, are not addressed. The answer to getting ourselves unstuck, I feel is obvious. We need new blood governing the city. Ellen Zoppo-Sassu has the intelligence, education, and work ethic to run the city effectively. There has never been a candidate for mayor as capable as Ellen to undertake this formidable task from day one. I am so very excited over the prospect of serving and making a difference in the lives of all citizens in Bristol. Not just the Democrats or Republicans, but everyone.