The city plans to create a new “downtown gateway” at the western end of Memorial Boulevard to let travelers know they’ve made it to the city center.
“You want some sort of arrival, that you’ve arrived downtown,” said Jonathan Rosenthal, the director of the Bristol Development Authority.
The city is shelling out $5,000 to Beta Group, the consultant that came up with Main Street streetscape overhaul plan, to come up with concepts for the proposed gateway.
Ray Rogozinski, an assistant city engineer, said there will be two or three alternatives for officials to pick the one they like best.
Rosenthal said the gateway proposal initiated with the Bristol Downtown Development Corp., which is overseeing the revitalization of the 17-acre mall site.
Frank Johnson, who heads the downtown development effort, said the BDDC wants to see improvements made downtown whenever possible “in order to send a positive signal to residents and to send positive signals to the development community” that Bristol is eager for progress.
Johnson said he wasn’t sure what the gateway proposal is focused on, but the nonprofit he heads is interested in making sure people “know they’re approaching downtown” when they come in to the city center.
Rosenthal said the first gateway would be placed somewhere near the Tinty’s Furniture Store on the western end of the Boulevard.
But, he said, there’s probably a need to have other downtown gateways, particularly one on Riverside Avenue.
The goal, Rosenthal said, is to send a clear message that “you’re there now.”
The City Council and BDA approved the spending without much dissent.
But city Councilor Ken Cockayne voted against it.
He said he doesn’t have a particular problem with the gateway concept but doesn’t like the Main Street streetscape plan as a whole because it doesn’t include angled parking.
Cockayne said that others are pressing to do it quickly to make sure the funding’s still available
But, he said, he would prefer to “do it right the first time.”
Rosenthal said that the downtown corporation would pick which design to pursue when Beta Group finishes up the concepts.
“It really is the BDDC’s baby,” Rosenthal said.
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