October 15, 2009

Stortz suggests a downtown manager

Letter sent this week by former Mayor William Stortz:

The Honorable Art Ward
Mayor, City of Bristol

Mr. Michael Nicastro
President and CEO
Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce.

With all the things that are happening or could be happening, maybe it is time for the city to consider an idea suggested some time back, the idea of a “Downtown Manager”.
There are many groups that have a vested interest in seeing something done in the Downtown area as well as on sites that affect the growth of Downtown, such as the BDDC, BDA, Chamber, Board of Education, the City itself, Private
Developers, and the State among others, but there does not seem to be a focal point, a single source that is coordinating all the efforts, providing communication between various groups, being an advocate for downtown, and developing an inventory of options to be considered.
We have a golden opportunity to make things happen, good things for Bristol, and it is critical that we maximize our efforts, and therefore our results. At the same time we must utilize our resources in the best way possible so as to reduce the burden on the taxpayer.
Maybe this can be a short term function, maybe the Chamber and the City can combine resources to provide for it, not unlike what was attempted awhile back relative to attracting restaurants. But this is even bigger and much much more critical.
For example, one of the proposals talks about a parking garage, while at the same time, parking has been mentioned by others for the site adjacent to the Board of Education and some others mention the possibly for the Family Center site, and there is talk about a downtown parking study. Who is coordinating this?
Is anyone taking the initiative to address the Summer Street issue relative to downtown development?
With all the talk about Rail Service, is anyone addressing the idea of local transportation to support it and to get people downtown to the station? Who
is/should be responsible for getting the ball rolling so that if Rail Service becomes a likelihood, we can make sure that we have or will provide local transit for people to get to the Rail Station and to Downtown.
Is there any coordination of the use of buildings as they become available i.e. Bingham School, the Armory, the Family Center and others? There are others that might become available as one entity moves out into something else
Any developer, and others who might want to build or start a business in the downtown area should have ONE place to go to get started. The businesses that are downtown should have a go to person with their concerns, their issues and for help if needed.
As we develop the old Mall Site, who is making sure that the various groups that have a vested interested are kept in the loop? Police, Fire, Public Works will be affected: who will be their contact? Other city committees, commissions have a role to play. Transportation, Handicapped are two that come to mind quickly.
On the other side, is anyone responsible for working with the Board of Education to make their timetable for Bingham, O’Connell and the Boulevard known to various potential players?
At some point in time BDDC will either have their role expanded, or they will be phased out. If they are phased out, who will pick up their role?
Who is/will be responsible to pursue subsequent use of Memorial Boulevard, possibly as an adjunct, all or in part, with Tunxis Community College?
Who will work with businesses as Route 72 filters traffic to the downtown area, including Riverside Ave? This position could also assist in promoting the Forestville section as Route 72 is completed.
None of these ideas are really new, and actually there are many other things that are or might be happening that need assistance, coordination, and marketing.
That is another potential aspect of a Downtown Manager, someone to market our overall development, to make potential businesses and developer aware in a proactive fashion, and be available to guide them as they pursue these options.
Bristol has a lot to offer, but we are woefully lacking in marketing the good side of Bristol, not just in the physical sites and buildings. I am proud of Bristol, I know you are too. Why aren’t we telling the world?
A Downtown Manger would be helpful in keeping the area clean, the area safe.
A Downtown manager would be an advocate for the overall development of Downtown, assuring that all actions work towards that goal, an active and
vibrant Downtown. Certainly paying attention to any changes, making sure
that they are Pedestrian friendly is needed. Making sure that citizens concerns and interest are heard is vital: a singular contact point would be helpful.
There is much that could be done with a coordinated effort, there is much that could be done to better take care of the opportunities in front of us.
Having followed the downtown effort over the years, from various perspectives, I have seen and heard many good ideas from many people. This is just one of them.
I know that this letter is somewhat lengthy and rambling, but there is so much that this concept could accomplish. I could go on, but if you would like and could provide more information and backup if either of you are interested.
I know both of you are committed to Bristol, a better and growing Bristol and will try to do what the things that are right. Hopefully this concept is one of them.
Sincerely,
William T. Stortz


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

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wasn't a manager already suggested? Maybe not. If we couldn't push through a city planner, I don't see how we will be able to get a manager. There's no money in the city's budget. Nice idea, but I think it's dead in the water thanks to the economy.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you do this when you were in office Bill?

Concerned Conservative said...

If this will be (eternally) a volunteer poistion, I have no objections.

Anonymous said...

Stortz has a real way of reinventing history. All he suggests should be the job of the BDA. When he was mayor he also created the BDDC. Now he wants to create another position. Enough Bill. We should be looking for ways to be more efficient with taxpayer money not continuing to create redundant roles within city government.

Anonymous said...

Bill - great and to the point! But, a waste of time! Sorry. What is going to happen is that the Council which will be full of Democrats I am sure after the election will vote for studies on every one of your issues you mention in the editorial. Hence costing us(tax payers) 3x what is what would of cost just to hire a Town Manager with all the skills needed to run a city efficiently. Very Sad. No matter what Bristol will always be the City that is sandwiched between 2 cities that has everything we would like, but never will get. Just a fact. No matter what is put in the downtown area will never be successful unless it has housing/office and maybe some restaurants. Mom and Pop shops will come and go and never make it in downtown Bristol, even with a new access road coming through with 10 lights. RT 6 should have been the road that received the most attention the last 20 years, not sure why it did not?

Anonymous said...

Great Idea.

Someone should be pulling all these things together.

Anonymous said...

IF art is mayor we will need a town manager end of story.

Anonymous said...

8:13

Stortz suggested the idea at least once before he became mayor last time, and alluuded to it after he was mayor.

Anonymous said...

8:01

It would be a good investment, and in the letter he suggested that maybe the Chamber could step up to help.
In other areas this has been funded by by the businesses that benefit, the city included.

Avoiding one study might even be enough to pay for the position for a year.

Anonymous said...

Where do you think Stortz was going with his effort to get rid of Rosenthal, an effort thwarted by Ward and his democrat cronies.

Things might be quite different now.

Anonymous said...

Even a Town Manager would need help in this area, especially early on.

But as usual, most are not receptive to ideas that might help Bristol.

Anonymous said...

Is it me or isn't this what Rosenthal gets paid to do? Oh yeah, he gets paid to practically do nothing except put pretty bricks on the streets, and then expects that to bring businesses to downtown. Why do we pay him to sit and do nothing? When's the last time he went out looking for businesses? Or will that take away from his time from doing nothing?

Anonymous said...

poster 12:58 on 10/15. It's people like you that bring this town down. I don't believe for one minute that we can't pull ourselves by our bootstraps and become a place where people will want to live, work and shop. Obviously you're still here which is unfortunate, because you're clearly one of those people who will dumb down this town any chance you can. What a shame! Why don't you just give the process a chance to work? If you don't want to be part of the solution, then stop being part of the problem.

Concerned Conservative said...

Where's the Economic Directors role in these things (Stortz suggested)?
Is Rosenthal still employed by the city? Why couldn't/shouldn't his department just handle this? One fact is that Rosenthal is smart enough to know the downtown's role as a center of commerce is a pipe dream. As he correctly said "If it's happening on Route 6, it's not going to happen in the downtown".

Anonymous said...

Stortz seems to be one of the few that stays involved, stays aware, and is willing to put his name on the line.

I don't always agree with him, but he sure in interested in a better Bristol

Anonymous said...

Remember, Ward was Rosenthals biggest supporter when Stortz tried to get rid of him.

But then, Rosenthal is one of Wards biggest fund raisers, so it all makes sense?

Anonymous said...

October 16, 2009 7:55 AM - its people like you that keep voting in the wrong people.

Anonymous said...

Concerned Conservative:

Rosenthal has no interest in making Bristol a better city. He lives down on the coast and could give a hoot about Bristol. He is absolutely worthless in his position and I think someone needs to take a look at his worth.

Anonymous said...

4:44

Stortz did and look what it got him!

Too bad some of the council put politics ahead of the city.

And Ward was one of them.

Anonymous said...

Why does he even have a chance 100,000 a year job and nobody in this town wants it, Something is wrong.

Anonymous said...

ALOT of the big managers for the city don`t live in this town that`s what`s wrong. they don`t care they just collect a check.

Anonymous said...

Keep that in mind when you vote on Nov. 3

Anonymous said...

Good idea, won't be accepted by Ward, who is paranoid.

Anonymous said...

Read in todays Press that Stortz was instrumental in staring the Pumkin Festival.

One of many of the things that he did for Bristol that didn't get the recognition it deserved.

Anonymous said...

Keep at it Bill, sooner or later they will start to listen to you.

Anonymous said...

Looks like they finally wre, at least the candidates are talking up marketingt the city.

But we need PLANNING too!

Keep at it Bill