October 22, 2013

Czenczelewski says much accomplished, more to do

City Councilor Derek Czenczelewski sent this along:
As the clock winds down on my first, but hopefully not last, term it has given me an opportunity to look back at what has been accomplished by the city of Bristol over the past two years.
We saw Bristol's bond rating re-affirmed at AA+ by Fitch Ratings despite the economy remaining in tough shape and the United States seeing its’ rating downgraded, with the possibility of an additional downgrade right around the corner. It’s a testament to our strong pension funds as well as a conservative and responsible approach to capital improvement bonding over the past several years.
During the past two years, the City has bonded several flood relief projects, infrastructure upgrades, and safety improvements including new traffic signage per a State mandate, a new firehouse for southeastern Bristol, and renovations to the existing fire headquarters. In addition, funding was approved for new roofs at Northeast Middle School and the Board of Education, while additional technology upgrades were approved for our schools.
Bristol’s teamwork with the neighboring towns of Plymouth and Plainville resulted in grant awards for a pothole patcher and a regional flood study. Capitalizing on a previous grant, the Pine Lake Fishing Pier and Parking Lot is now nearing completion after years of delays. And speaking of delays, the land swap with McDonalds was finally completed, paving the way for phase one of downtown’s redevelopment.
On that same note, we saw the substantial completion of construction on two new K-8 schools, the Beals Senior Community Center, and the Manross Library renovations. Several new businesses moved to town, while others, including ESPN have expanded their facilities. The Hilton Doubletree completed a $20+ million renovation, and we also witnessed the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new $11 million Bristol Boys and Girls Club.
The Bristol Housing Authority finished renovations to Dutton Heights and elsewhere, creating new tax revenue for the City while improving housing conditions. The BHA continues to plan and position for significant renovations at Cambridge Park. The Tax Assessment Freeze program helped spur $1.1 million in privately-funded renovations to blighted structures in town, while approximately 3000 code enforcement complaints were handled. A revolving fund was created to fund code enforcement activities going forward, and a coordinated effort has been started to better publicize the many incentives offered for home ownership and rehabilitation between the BDA, Tax Assessor’s Office and the Bristol Housing Authority.
Several recommendations from past studies were implemented, including a re-zoning of the Route 72 corridor and increased police foot patrols in the West End, among many others. The West End Association has seen tremendous growth, while the Forestville Village Association completed an extensive renovation to Quinlan Park through fundraising and the hard work of dedicated volunteers.
The City implemented a new pay-as-you-throw program at the transfer station, recently created a Fields Study Committee to more effectively identify the needs of the various leagues and schedule our fields accordingly, launched a new Marketing Task Force that partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to hire a marketing consultant, and created the Bristol Property Renewal Corporation which is charged with helping spur the redevelopment of brownfield properties across the City.

A new era of collaboration was formed with the Chamber of Commerce, as the City partnered with the Chamber to handle economic development activities. This effort has led to the retention and expansion of Bristol companies, and the attraction of new companies to the City.

Several other projects are currently in progress, including a Multi-Family Home Buyers Program, the contracting of a commercial real estate brokerage to expedite the sale of lots in the Southeast Bristol Business Park, and energy saving initiatives that will save thousands in taxpayer dollars.

All the while, this Council has asked the tough questions and created a new age of transparency in government. Monthly Town Hall meetings were held with the public to keep our citizens in the loop, while allowing the opportunity for feedback and the exchange of new ideas and suggestions.
Looking back, this is just a fraction of all the City has accomplished over the past two years, but we still understand there is a lot left to do. I’ve enjoyed my two years in office, and am incredibly grateful to the community for having given me an opportunity to serve the 3rd District. If given the opportunity to serve on the Council for a second term, I know we can expand on the successes the City has enjoyed, while holding the line on taxes, improving services, and enhancing our community’s image.
Thank you for your support, and please consider electing my colleagues and me on November 5.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

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