Thursday, May 13, 2010

Give Downtown Project a Chance

Yesterday I wrote a story for The Bristol Press ( about the realistic timeframe people can expect for the downtown project.
The deal isn't even signed yet between the city, developer Don Monti of Renaissance Downtowns and the Bristol Downtown Development Corp., but both Monti and Frank Johnson, who chairs the BDDC, kindly spoke with me a little bit about the plans.
I'm sure many people in town are as eager to know what to expect there as I am, and hopefully just about everyone is also as eager to have something good there.
They were honest enough to say downtown won't be built in a day. In fact, expect it to be built in phases, a piece at a time, over a period of years. The whole thing could take the better part of a decade. At the moment, Monti plans what he called a "boutique" hotel as part of it all. That means a small one. That would be part of the big picture of mixed use, commercial, residential, retail, pedestrian-oriented development that Monti is pushing.
As I understand it, the investment could be really significant.
Of course, the anonymoust reaction to this in the stupid blogosphere is outrage -- it'll never be built, why should it take so long, the hotel will be terrible... yada, yada, yada.
My husband and favorite co-worker, Steve Collins, wrote in the Bristol Blog about how shameful this anonymous and moronic tirade is. See what he had to say in
Now it's time for my two cents.
Too bad the silent majority is so silent. How about a little confidence in the members of the community -- homeowners, business leaders and others like Frank Johnson, Jennifer Janelle, John Lodovico and the rest on the BDDC as well as Mayor Art Ward and the entire city council and a host of professional staff, some of whom live in town and others who are professionally invested-- who have given their own time (well, yes, the professionals were paid) and energy into figuring out what to do with the old mall property and done it all by using their real names, in public?
How about giving Monti, the chosen developer a chance to see what he can do? He's putting his own money on the line, after all.
From my interactions with him, I can tell you that Monti is very high energy. I know Bristol needs that. He's got successful businesses elsewhere and other towns have put their faith in him.
He's got a track record of bringing all sorts of people together and he sees great potential in Bristol.
It seems Monti believes more in Bristol than the anonymous posters who can't wait to go on the attack and trash him, the city and everyone else who is trying to do something for the good of the community.
I think the people of Bristol can return that faith, at least to give him a chance to give it a go. I hope they do, and I hope he ultimately gives them reason to cheer.
I may no longer be eligible to vote in Bristol, but I was for some time. My children were born there and I've invested the bulk of my professional life in the Mum City. I care about people who live there and I truly want good things for the city.

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