Letter: Please overrule the current DOT plan for Silver Creek

Posted 7/17/19

An open letter to Gov. Gina Raimondo:

You know me as an ardent supporter here in Bristol.  You have been to our building on several occasions, visiting our studio for meetings, and also …

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Letter: Please overrule the current DOT plan for Silver Creek

Posted

An open letter to Gov. Gina Raimondo:

You know me as an ardent supporter here in Bristol.  You have been to our building on several occasions, visiting our studio for meetings, and also working with our neighbor and tenant, the BeeHive Café.  You have always been a great supporter of Bristol and we thank you for that.

I am writing to you because Bristol’s economy is hurting, and the forecast is worsening.  We have lost some retailers in the past couple of years, due to fewer visitors to our town, and the more common online shopping of today.  We cannot change people’s buying habits, but we can make Bristol more accommodating and accessible.  There is a plan for a needed bridge replacement that is scheduled for next summer with DOT which may serve to be the ultimate death blow to the remaining businesses and restaurants here.

I am talking about the time period for the bridge reconstruction that we have been told will occur in the height of the summer season, post 4th of July and into August 2020.  There could not be a worse time to close off the main artery into town, forcing detours which will lead to a general mass avoidance of Bristol in the summer of 2020.

What occurred without any local businesses being involved in planning, was the current town administrator, Steven Contente telling DOT’s Alviti, that he preferred the summer because school is out, and less concern about school buses during that time.  We, the business people of Bristol, who only learned about this plan after all was seemingly cemented as final, have requested a new timetable, pre or post summer, so as not to negatively impact the summer months when merchants are able to increase revenues to carry them through the entire year.  The public meeting with DOT in May was disastrous, as we business people were shut down in voicing our concerns.  We were further insulted at that meeting by our administrator, calling us self-centered.

This administrator is not mindful of business at all, nor does he see the larger impact upon the local economy.  The town council has basically been told by him that this is now DOT’s plan and cannot be changed.  I am certainly not alone in understanding the seriousness and certain devastation of our economy if this plan were to go forward. 

We business owners are united and unanimous in condemning this foolish plan as it now exists. 

I, we, propose the following alternatives:

  1. Change the timetable to begin in April, ending in May, in the proposed 6-8 week construction period. Should there be overruns and the fear that it could threaten the 4th of July season of concerts and parade, then for 2020 only-begin the parade route at the Guiteras school, just south of the bridge area.  This change in route was actually proposed by the 4th of July Committee several years ago, and due to public outcry from the citizens on the northern area of Hope Street who would not have the parade travel past their house, it was abandoned.  I believe it is a reasonable risk for a shortened route of one year only, in order to help the local economy.  There is a certain incentive to work most efficiently here.
  2. Alternatively, make the timetable begin post Labor Day when most businesses would have reaped the best revenue of summer.  It should be long finished before Christmas season, with a proposed 6-8 week window of construction.
  3. Find the budget to have a pre-fabricated temporary bridge put in place to re-route traffic while construction occurs.  We have been told there in no money for that, I heard the figure of $1.2+ million is the cost? But what is the cost to tax paying business people who may well have their livelihoods destroyed by a summer period of bridge construction.  We are people who contribute to our local and state economies by gathering sales and meals taxes, which will undoubtedly suffer if the summer timetable of construction goes forward. I do believe it would well out weight the small cost of a temporary bridge.  The shortsightedness of this alternative plan to find the $ for a temporary bridge, is mind boggling.  Clearly, it does not take an economist to point to the greater risk of lost tax revenue due to business closings.
  4. There is also the historic matter of stones, the support structures deemed important that must be removed and then put back which stresses and lengthens the timetable of construction.  I suggest that a waiver or exemption be placed on these aesthetically unimportant structures be issued by you Governor, by directing our State agency to do this.  I am a preservationist with a track record, but well understand the greater good here is to serve the people and the economy, rather than preserving old stone supports.

Governor Gina, please take heed of what I asking here of you, to overrule DOT, to challenge the misguided direction of a local town administrator who has failed to see the larger picture, and come to our aid.  We need you to act as you are empowered to act and care deeply about the economy of our state.  Bristol needs you to act, in its best interest, and in the overall best interests of our state.  Please, we need you to act.

We thank you,

Stephan Brigidi
Brisdtol

 

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