An open letter from Adam and Regina von Gootkin, Bristol residents:
Dear Bristol Leaders:
We thought it time to share some of our thoughts about Bristol Rising. While I imagine there are people more involved, qualified, and financially invested in the final outcome than we are, I’m not sure our voice is being sufficiently considered, as I believe we represent a demographic that is important to a flourishing, growing, and successful community.
I am 31 years old, and my bride is 29. We moved to Bristol five years ago, and purchased the E.D. Rockwell house on Federal Hill. Our dream was to finish the restoration of this beautiful historic home and create a life here. My family is originally from Middletown where we have lived for almost 200 years and we had no prior connection to this town. Well done, you’ve attracted us here! We don’t have children yet, we work very hard, and for now, we appreciate a “no kids yet” lifestyle, which means we have a little spending money.
We were attracted by the rich history and architecture of the historic neighborhood; by the incredibly kind and genuine, hardworking people that we’ve met; and by the buzz around Main Street and the Depot Square development area.
Since moving here, I’ve launched Onyx Spirits Company, a Connecticut company producing Onyx Moonshine and the first whiskey in Connecticut’s history. My wife, an attorney and double UConn alum, practices at a firm in Glastonbury that recently opened a firm office on Stafford Avenue in Bristol. She has been active in the community through volunteering on the Historic District Commission, helping to revise the town’s charter, and mentoring a student at the Ivy Drive School.
Right now, a three minute walk from our home brings you to a rotting, vacant, Depot Square. It’s my understanding that the “Downtown Revitalization Project,” in one form or another, has been on the table since the early 2000’s. From an entrepreneur’s outlook, when you have a company willing to pour millions of dollars into a massive asphalt parking lot, I would think your priority would be to welcome them with open arms and a genuine smile. Host them! Make it as easy as possible for them to work with you for success. Help them spend their money here!
I’d like to ask those involved with the project to consider the fact that an abundant, successful community requires access to commercial options. Considering our “no kids yet” lifestyle, we enjoy meeting our friends and colleagues for lunch and dinner. We almost always leave town for this due to the small selection of options, and it’s tough to get our young friends to come here. We would love to see restaurants, shopping, places to walk around and quality housing for our friends that are not yet ready to buy a home. I have to assume that the hundreds if not thousands of young professionals working at ESPN would much rather live, spend and shop closer to their job.
We hear whisperings of egos, politics, and fear. Of people not willing to stand up and put themselves on the line for this project. As we start moving into our next phase of our life, our priority is shifting to one of a quality lifestyle. If you don’t shape Bristol into the town it could be TODAY, I’m worried our demographic will move on. And if we don’t see some honest, rational teamwork abounding with common sense to make this project a reality, you can keep your parking lot, but you may just lose us.
Adam & Regina von Gootkin