To the editor :
As a member of the Bristol Economic Commission I am concerned about the current business climate in Bristol. This letter of support for the Bond Referendum Question #8 will not appear in time to be a factor in the voting taking place next week, however it is vitally important that we address these matters in the interest of the Bristol economy. The information concerning the allocation of the funds although skimpy in detail, was made quite clear in the Town of Bristol website with thanks to the Town Administrator.
It is important that Bristol continue to improve its infrastructure and upgrade its buildings, whatever the results of the referendum. Allowing these repairs and improvements to be neglected is unthinkable, and the scope of the problems become magnified if the recent storm damage is taken into account. The $9 million Bond funding will raise our real estate taxes slightly, but these expenditures are more than necessary and the amount allocated seems to be a bare minimum. Regardless of the particular application made for these funds we must rely on our Town Administrator and our new Town Council to ensure that the work is kept local to create jobs locally. The tendency in the past has been to award the consultant contracts and the construction contracts to out of Town entities rather than Bristol companies. Without being overly chauvinistic, when times are tough we must look after our own, and we should insist that our elected officials look after our local interests in that regard.
Regarding business, we need new activities, festivals and events to bring more business and people to Bristol in the off-season. We do a great job on the 4th of July parade, but we need many other quality events like International sailing races, jazz festivals, film festivals, dance and artistic events spread out in the offseason. Our primary economic resource at this point is tourism so we must focus more effort in that direction. Our schools and waterfront must be able to compete advantageously with our neighboring towns if we want to maintain the market value of our real estate. Our planning and zoning must demonstrate more creative thinking and innovation to keep pace with technology.
We cannot rely solely on our past history to bring new business. We need to better integrate Roger Williams University into the fabric of our community and our economy, adding to and building on some very interesting initiatives that have already been started in that direction. Most of all we need better infrastructure, new industry and more local jobs for our economy to flourish.
I hope that these thoughts are of some interest as we take a breath before attacking the challenges ahead.
George S. Burman,
Member Bristol Economic Development Commission.
66 Highland Road