Letter: Fasten our seatbelts on the Robin Rug thrill ride

Posted 6/8/23

To the editor: Bette Davis, in her star performance of “All About Eve,: famously said, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” I wish it had said, …

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Letter: Fasten our seatbelts on the Robin Rug thrill ride


To the editor:

Bette Davis, in her star performance of “All About Eve,: famously said, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

I wish it had said, “bumpy ride,” because this is what our little town of Bristol is about to embark on.

The Robin Rug project is full steam ahead. Tonight, June 8 , at 7 p.m., will be a deep dive into the Master Plan from the Brady Sullivan Team and Bristol’s Planning Board.

Our downtown is filled with small businesses who are just coming out of a very dark past few years; it can be difficult to easily get in and out of our town to visit these businesses. Though 300 potential new residents (and their pets and visitors) will eventually be an economic asset, their cars and the resulting traffic as they are dropped into this tiny historic corner will require a deeper level of thoughtfulness. Our town leaders must work collaboratively with the neighborhood residents who have lived there for generations.

As a 31-year resident and a 25-year business owner, I am looking forward to the positives of this project. The overall plans look detailed, thorough, and as conscientious of a project this size in a postage stamp of a neighborhood could be. The parking lot, (except for an omission of an extra row of requested arborvitaes) looks good; drainage, lighting and landscaping all seem reasonable. The powers that be who work on our side of the town, even though they don’t live in the neighborhood, are doing their due diligence to make sure that the outcome isn’t as bumpy.

This is not a total love fest, though.

We must do what we can to control what we can. The construction and traffic flow are of great concern to the nearby neighborhood residents. It is going to be noisy, messy, and impactful. The ins and outs of the parking lot, the loading zones and construction areas still need more detailed attention.
It is natural to compare this project to Stone Harbor. There is a difference, however, between condominium ownership versus apartment rental.

Stone Harbor includes only owner-occupied residences. Robin Rug will be apartment leases, creating more frequent moves in and out, along with an 6,500 additional square feet of retail space. Take a walk by Stone Harbor at night during the winter months and it is mostly dark. Summer-only occupation for condominium ownership seems more likely than it does for apartment rentals.

There will be only one entrance and exit for the underground parking at the bottom of Constitution Street, with an electric garage door potentially going up and down more than 100 times a day. The traffic alone should make Elks Club members revisit how they will get in and out of their parking lot, especially after a couple of cocktails, let alone the pedestrian traffic and the new bicycle routes whose markings magically appeared last week.

The noise, the racing up and down on Thames Street, the flying around the corners of Thames and Constitution and Thames and Church, the right and left turns from Constitution to Hope along with this new bike route, are about to create a tornado of activity in a town that already struggles with a swirling traffic extravaganza.

Please attend the meeting tonight to hear what is going on; it makes a difference when people attend.

Collaboration from the Brady Sullivan Team will go a long way to extend an olive branch to what has been a quiet and joyful place to live.

I hope to see you tonight.

Alayne White
11 Constitution St.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.