The Bristol Blog features news and information about Bristol, Connecticut.
January 11, 2010
Stortz: Let's do downtown right
Former Mayor William Stortz just sent this email to the head of the Bristol Downtown Development Corp., Frank Johnson:
Hopefully the council will approve the tentative developer on Tuesday, and then the ball is back in your (BDDC) court. While both developers could do the job, I think you made the right choice. However, the ultimate results are now up to the city. We control, or should control, what happens from here on.
As I said at the workshop, I support the idea of housing DOWNTOWN. The easiest way to get people DOWNTON is to have some of them live there. Jane Jacobs said, “People are downtown”. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they all live on the mall site.
A few questions, food for thought. How can, how does the city propose to assure that there will be no subsidized or low-income housing on the site? As you may recall, many of the comments made last week revolved around the housing issues, on the Hill, in the West End, etc. I realize that those are outside the scope of the BDDC, but the mall site isn’t, at least at this time. As I talk with many people, that is one of the biggest concerns, for those possibly interested in moving DOWNTOWN, as well as other people in the city.
If there are large numbers of housing units on the site, how much space will be left to provide the amenities: services, businesses etc that the people living downtown want and expect? Logically, there should be some concentration of those so that if people walk 1,2, 3 blocks to get downtown, most of what they want will right there. On the other hand, people will probably not want to walk to 4,5.6 other sites to meet their needs.
Also, while economic times are bad, they will improve: how does the BDDC plan to address realistic construction and completion schedules?
I realize that we are dealing with a concept for the mall site at this time. Maybe the City should be looking at a concept for DOWNTOWN, which would support and supplement what could be done on the mall site. Done at the same time, working together with the developer might make for a win-win situation. The role of the BDDC is limited, at this time. Maybe it could be expanded, or maybe the city could step up. Maybe even the developer might provide some support with this effort. I have included as a P.S., a letter I sent to the mayor and the Chamber some months ago.
Next, Parking. While a study may be in the works, I find it hard to see how one can be done without some reasonable idea as to what is going on the site and DOWNTOWN. Hopefully it will address the potential of the whole DOWNTOWN area. People will only walk just so far and safety and security are major concerns. Will this be the city’s responsibility, the responsibility of the developer, or logically, some combination of the two? Other nearby sites might be considered as they become, or are made, available, to compliment the whole picture.
Lastly, as the BDDC goes forward with workshops and public hearings, I would ask that they make the conditions for those that want to speak, a little more comfortable. At the last workshop, the acoustics were poor and less than comfortable for those that chose to take part.
Frank, like many others, I have followed the saga of Bristol’s DOWNTOWN for a number of years. Did some research, talked and listened to many people. I am excited, as many others are too, that we might be gong forward in creating a better Bristol. But as I indicated, there are concerns that do exist. I am confident that collectively we will do everything that can be done to do what is right for Bristol.
We deserve it. *******
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Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org