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A Piazza Is the Dream For Downtown Bristol, Connecticut

To dream about a vision is great, but to actually carry it out is altogether something different. That’s what the city of Bristol is trying to do, make a dream reality for the future of its residents.

The city, population 61,000, has to change, its downtown isn’t much of a destination, the majority of it was removed in those so-called “urban removal days.” A strip mall came in, but then that fell into despair. This is not unlike many towns across the country removing all of those historic buildings may have seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but now wish they had them back.

Just outside Bristol’s walls is the giant Sports Network, ESPN, so if you figure downtown Bristol gets a new lease on life it would pair nicely with ESPN  which employs thousands.

Bristol, settled in 1785, has had enough of its blight and so it has brought in a group called Renaissance Downtowns to help it do that, move forward in a new and very exciting way.

The city is also using social media to get input from all who live there, it’s called crowd souring. The deal behind BristolRising.com is to get input about what folks want to see in the first 17 acres of the heart of their city and then push on to redevelop all 400 acres which is their downtown.

So what’s the dream? It’s a piazza, an honest to goodness piazza that you would find in a European city. It a place where people live and work and play, just like a “green” in New England only this would be filled with shops and buildings and beautiful lighting. It would be the first such piazza in the United States.

Check this video out of the dream, this is  WOW!

One of the young men on the team to revitalize Bristol is Mark Walerysiak. He grew up in the town and can’t stand what happened to it and wants to help it thrive. I walked around town with Walerysiak and he more then gets what is possible. At just 27 years old he is passionate about this project. Talk to him for just a few minutes, you will find that his enthusiasm is contagious.

I told him to go into politics and be one of the good guys. I took his picture standing right in the middle of the nothingness to show you just how barren the downtown area really is. But here’s the good news, they’re doing something about it, they’re even talking about bringing the trains back through town, not much moves on the tracks right now. There used to be a double track now there’s just a single.

This is about hope and I find it marvelous! In these tough times towns have to get help from their residents and it looks like Bristol may have figured that out.

I urge you to go to their BristolRising.com site and look around and see what they’re up to then listen to Walerysiak below. I think you’ll be inspired to do something in your community, it’s a lot of hard work, but it can be fun too. espeicially when you start seeing results. I for one am looking forward to sitting in the middle of Bristol’s central gathering place, their piazza someday soon.

 

4 Comments

  1. Posted July 27, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Wow great vision!! I hope he can bring it to reality!!

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted July 27, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

      Seth, this will be years in the making, but why not push forward, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  2. Joanne Triolo
    Posted August 8, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Ann, THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for being at the Pop Up Piazza Festival on Saturday! As one of the volunteers there for Bristol Rising, I was in shock and awe at the resounding success it was. I don’t know if we will ever know the total number of folks who showed up but that doesn’t matter. Mark and the rest of us were smiling from ear to ear all day! We can’t wait for our meeting tomorrow night to keep the momentum going…it’s obvious that Bristol’s heart beat is really strong and our citizens are lovin’ this. Your support, positive energy and community spirit really helped to make this such a wonderful event! Just can’t seem to thank you enough…..

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted August 8, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Joanne, this is how we will rebuild the country and Connecticut by really caring about our communities not just giving lip service, I had a wonderful time seeing what happened in Bristol, the people just kept coming and coming, they are looking for someone to lead them and you all have built something incredibly special….don’t lose the momentum!!!