April 27, 2009

Roberts property project on hold... or dead?

Plans for a $7 million recreation complex on the former Roberts property are, more or less, dead.

“There’s no money for it,” said Mayor Art Ward. “Right now, unfortunately, it’s not feasible.”

The city’s long-term projects list includes only a $700,000 allocation for the project – sometime after 2014.

Ward said that it was purchased as open space and that’s what it will stay for the time being, useful for passive recreation and dog walking.

Though the 47-acre site on Chippens Hill has been eyed for softball fields, it doesn’t appear that anything will happen there for years given the need to create a long driveway, parking and much more. The infrastructure simply doesn’t exist on the parcel to create much of anything yet.

City Councilor Kevin McCauley told the Roberts Property Committee this winter that he would still like to see it reestablish itself “and get something done” on the site off James P. Casey Road, but the lack of money makes it unlikely that officials will push for the recreation complex.

Ward said he thought the land might make a good spot for one of the two new schools sought by the Board of Education, but others disagreed so the city is in the process of buying farmland off Matthews Street instead. Chippens Hill Middle School is across the street from the former Roberts property.

The plan sought by the committee called for a leveling the property, building an access road, adding 300 parking spaces, putting in a baseball and a softball field, making a paved walking trail along the site’s perimeter and perhaps having a large multi-use field, a concession stand, a dog park, playground and more.

Sports leagues in town, ranging from the Bristol Soccer Club to McCabe-Waters Little League, pleaded for the city to move ahead with the project, citing a drastic shortage of playing fields in town.

City councilors have voted to use the site for active recreation, though Ward and his predecessor, William Stortz, opposed the sports complex.

Ward said that any plan is likely to prove costly. That won’t fly given the economic woes afflicting the entire nation, the mayor said.

The project isn’t going to happen “for the foreseeable future,” Ward said.

The city bought the property eight years ago for $1.23 million with the intention of using it for recreation. One official, former city Councilor Tom Ragaini, said at the time the site was “the perfect spot” for a sports complex.

A controversial $11 million plan for the land was gunned down several years when Board of Finance members complained that it was too costly.

*******
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

All of a sudden the mayor got religion about spending projects? The youth sports in this town are just about the only thing that has kept people from moving elsewhere (Not that a ton of families haven't relocated to greener pastures!!) Yeesh, we get money for streetscapes and fire house renovations, but nothing for the kids. Typical Bristol. If other projects weren't getting funded, I could understand but that is not the case.

more? said...

grants and tax dollars are different things 1:02 - you must be a cockayne clone, spouting off about that which you have no clue about.

Anonymous said...

Next to the Red Sox moving out of town and maybe the purchase of the mall, the Robert's Property, and more specifically the Robert's Property Committee, is the second or third biggest failure and embarrassment this community has ever experienced. The Robert's Committee, which I actually thought had been disbanded due to a dead end, lack of funding or lack of interest, accomplished absolutely nothing during their tenure except meaningless retoriac and wasting people's time. The committee had been empaneled for at least six or seven years without an accomplishment. When public sentiment and money WAS available for passive recreation, hiking trails, ball fields and playscapes someone on the committee thought it was a good idea to slide in a "Friday Night Lights" football stadium somewhere in the final proposal (which was not in the draft proposal) effectively putting all of the neighbors in an up-roar, killing the idea, concept and development of the Robert's Property probably forever. What began as a wonderful idea, for the neighbors turned into an issue of trust or mistrust of the city. The Robert's Committee is one of the worst processes in town I have ever heard of. The committee definately mishandled the potential for development and did not represent the city in a positive manner.

Anonymous said...

Roberts is used right now for a 47 acre dog park - city cares more for the dogs then the kids.

Anonymous said...

Maintenance $$$ ?????

Anonymous said...

As Ward gets older, he gets smarter.

Now he is TALKING about a project years in the future, a project he once opposed, but now supports, because HE won't have to budget for it, but still gets the good PR.

Way to go Art!

Anonymous said...

open space is nice. no need to develop every spot in town.

Anonymous said...

Art is all about PR.

Anonymous said...

3:05,

Judging by his popularity and the great job he's been doing, even during the recession, he'll probably still be around in the future to watch it come to fruition (and it's killin' you, isn't it?)

Anonymous said...

...and 3:22 is all about BS!
;0)

Anonymous said...

The Roberts property process was a good process that many people participated in and the only people who were unhappy were the neighbors which 1:44pm clearly is.

The timing is not right for the property because of the economy but it is a good project that would be nice to see someday.

Joey Garlic said...

I attended Roberts Cmte meetings upon occasion to advocate for lacrosse and I thought they were very well run and had a large cross section of people from our fair city participating. One night I sat next to dog owners and a nice lady who was there speaking on community gardens. It is never a waste of time when people are engaged, even if they don't agree on the subject. lacrosse is still not being given the respect it deserves, but ah, that discussion is for another day.....

Anonymous said...

Re: 1:02 PM

You get it. Twenty-one minutes later, you don't.

If we don't take care of our youth, they will not remain in Bristol to take care of us.

Anonymous said...

3:43

I don't think he is doing a great job.

But he obviously has you buffaloed

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight, we only paid $1.2 Millon dollars for 47 acres on Chippens Hill, but more than DOUBLE that amount for for 1/10th the size for a parcel of land, from Ken Crowley...in Forestville?!?!? Does anyone at City Hall know their a$$ from their elbow?? Time for me to move.

Anonymous said...

6:52 and 6:55:

I think you are both missing the point of my post (1:44). Years and years of hollow discussions with absolutely nothing tangible accomplished or gained. Not one field, not one playscape, not one walking track, nothing. If you look at what the members of the Hoppers and Pine Lake Committees have accomplished over the years, there is no comparison. All because some misguided or mislead individuals had to amp it up with a football stadium at the last minute. The key point to be made is the neighbors WERE on board with the passive recreation plan of development until the football stadium/lighting issue emerged. Maybe I don't quite understand how to measure success, but this committee sure seems like it was a waste of time. The Robert's Property should have been turned over to the Park Dept years ago. I'm told Mayor Casey killed the highway through Bristol in the 1950's, the Robert's Committee killed the Robert's property.

Anonymous said...

Ward won't turn it over to the park dept because then he can't control it.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think he is doing a great job."

You wouldn't think he was doing a great job if he cured cancer and stopped global warming. He pissed you off and you'll never get over it...end of story.

uninformed said...

ward is the chairman of the park board so why couldn't he control it?

Anonymous said...

Commissioners out number Ward on the park board - do the math.

Joey Garlic said...

1:44pm - stop the revisionist history - there was never a stadium football field proposed in the way you are describing it - you are in NIMBY mode and while that is an understandable reaction, you don't need to resort to half-truths to justify that you didn't want it in your backyard.

Anonymous said...

But he hasn't cured Cancer and he hasn't stopped Global Warming.

He hasn't even done his job as maor of Bristol: he hasn't lead, he hasn't followed, all he has done is continue to campaign.

Sad, Sad, Sad.

Anonymous said...

6:34, Thanks for proving my point. You obviously have a HUGE chip on your shoulder (and no spell check on your computer)...sad, sad, sad.

blind as a bat said...

6:34 - and all that you have done is dribble over what you wanted done, with no thought or consideration of the ramifications. Get your head off your knees and stand up and see the REAL world.

Anonymous said...

To Joey Garlic:

You still haven't answered the question: Why wasn't anything accomplished during the tenure of the Robert's Committee? Why is it, after all this time, still a barren, moonscaped looking, unfinished, tumble weeded, tick infested, dog park? Where are the fields of dreams? I am all ears and waiting for your explanation.

Anonymous said...

You want to know why the Robert's property is still a barren, moonscaped looking, unfinished, tumble weeded, tick infested, dog park?

Two simple reasons: (1) the rich and well-connected NIMBY's of Chippens Hill sabotaged the Committee's efforts every step of the way; (2) anything that Ellen Zoppo had a hand in is poison so long as Ward is mayor. Yes, he really is that petty and the record proves it.

Anonymous said...

12:59 PM:

For the record, if you look back at my posts, they are not personnal and did not single out any one person as being responsible for the failures of the Robert's property, however, since you brought it up let's talk. My issues are with the committee's priorities with the parcel(football stadium) and the, again, lack of accomplishment with the property. Chippens Hill residents are not all as wealthy and connected as you may want to believe. Most of the residents are hard working, blue collar, or now layed off individuals who take pride in their neighborhoods and their community. Mayor Ward has only been the Mayor for a year and a half and had nothing to do with the Robert's Committee failure. This is not a Ward issue. Since YOU brought up Ellen Zoppo, their are some who feel the Robert's Committe was establsihed as an election vehicle for Ellen to have something larger than life on her resume believing that the proprty would be developed in time for her run for Mayor. Unfortunately, the project never got off the drawing board and the rest is history. Please don't turn this Ellen failure into a Mayor Ward issue.

Anonymous said...

Mayor is VERY Petty. Also two-faced. How did he get that purple heart anyway? I think he hurt himself to get it.

Anonymous said...

2:27 pm:

Sounds like you don't deny that it was the Chippens Hill NIMBY's who torpedoed the plan; you just object to my implying they are all wealthy. Looks like I scored one on you there.

Not sure what the point of your "election vehicle" conspiracy theory is. Are you saying the Committee "failed" because it was just a tool to get Ellen elected? What about the fact that it existed for years before she came on the scene? Or do you mean it was doomed to fail BECAUSE it was merely an election vehicle?

And apparently you still resent Ellen's trying to provide more ballfields to Bristol kids, since you are blaming her for the plan's failure. It never got off the drawing board because you rich Chippens Hill NIMBY's killed it. You don't give yourself and your cronies enough credit, sir.

Anonymous said...

I still haven't heard any mention of the likely on going costs!

Guess that doesn't matter: more people can get hired.

Anonymous said...

8:31,

I realize that you're having trouble finding things to bitch about, but the name calling and cheap shots are childish, sick and pathetic. Looks like you've reached a new low. I sure hope you're not who I think you are.

Anonymous said...

7:37am I have not problems finding things to complain about. Mayor is doing an awful job running the city, not listening to residents, playing games with the budget, saying one thing and doing another. I just find it really funny how when people on this blog hit a nerve in the Mayor you protect him. Either you are him or a butt kisser.

Embarrassed for you said...

Surprise! Wrong again, but what I do find hysterical is a handful of spiteful, juvenile, obviously pissed off individuals who make personal, vicious, nasty (anonymous) comments about the mayor. They (you) are the epitomy of the word "cowardly." Actually, it's more sad than funny, cuz I know some of you are supposed to be city "leaders," and that truly is pathetic!

Anonymous said...

"How did he get that purple heart anyway? I think he hurt himself to get it."
_________________________

Wow. How sad is this? What are you going to do next, make fun of his grandmother or kick his dog??? What a jerk!

Anonymous said...

12:49 Mayor stay off the blogs during work - taxpayers are paying for you to work not blog.

Anonymous said...

9:04, Once again, WRONG! But hey, don't let that fact stop you...just continue with your false accusations like usual. It's kinda what you do best!

Anonymous said...

Some people would rather have new and more ball ields than better school.

Guess that is why Bristol is moving BACKWARD.