With a new parking lot, new drainage system and new decorative fence, improvements are continuing at the Bristol Industrial Park as officials continue its transformation from a polluted factory complex into a “focal point for the neighborhood” and the community at large.
Mosaico, the nonprofit organization that manages the park, highlighted the next step in the park’s transformation recently during an unveiling of the decorative fence along Wood Street, across from the Common Pub. The chain link fence designed by students at The Steel Yard in Providence features hand-crafted medallions reflecting life in Bristol. They include depictions of the Mt. Hope Bridge, a map of the town, an anchor to pay homage to the town’s boating history, a ship to represent the town’s immigrant legacy, and a KW with a lightning bolt, the logo of the park’s original inhabitants, Kaiser Wire.
The fence and a newly paved parking lot are the most visible of the substantial improvements that have been made in recent months. Much of the work has been done underground, highlighted by a new drainage and filtration system that catches runoff from the massive roofs and parking lots, and runs it through an advanced sand filtration system, cleaning it before allowing it into the town’s storm drain system. New manhole covers, drain pipes and slope of the land funnel all the water into the system, helping transform the park from the dirty brownfield it once was into the clean business park hosting dozens of local companies it is becoming. A mound of contaminated soil growing in the center of the park will be capped and turned into a grassy knoll.
“It’s hard (for residents) to support (the park) when it seems so overwhelming,” said Mosaico Executive Director Diana Campbell, noting community support is critical for the non-profit to make improvements that blend the park into the community. “A lot of the work is infrastructure — no one sees the pipes underground. The fence makes a big difference and the parking lot makes a big difference.”
The more visible improvements are not going unnoticed in the community. Hundreds of people turned out during Wood Street Pride Days, organized by Mosaico late last summer. The money raised during the event helped pay for the new fence, and more than $400,000 in state DEM and federal EPA grants has funded much of the environmental improvement to the park.
It’s all part of an effort on Mosaico’s part to be not just an economic incubator giving small companies an affordable location to set up shop — it is currently 60 percent occupied with private business — but also a focal point and center of the community that can be a source of pride for area residents.
“We feel like a lot of the focus of Bristol is on Hope and Thames street - the waterfront,” Ms. Campbell said. “Hopefully, we’re getting a little attention here. The neighbors have really embraced the park, and the progress is being noticed by the politicians.”
Indeed it is. Town Administrator Steven Contente praised Mosaico for the progress that’s been made in increasing the employment rolls in town and helping beautify the Wood Street area.
“I see people working there who wouldn’t have been if Mosaico didn’t get involved,” said Mr. Contente, noting he’d like to see more attention paid to the area, including possibly extending the town’s Christmas lighting to Wood Street. “It’s taken some time, but there is progress. The emphasis has been on the waterfront, but Wood Street is an integral part of the day-to-day lives for the people who live there. It is an intimate, integral part of town.”
And Mosaico wants to make it more so. Ms. Campbell said the company is planning to expand on the Wood Street Day it staged last summer, and add other community events to draw visitors to the neighborhood — block dances, for instance, which used to be held on the Town Common could now be held in the Industrial Park’s new parking lot. Mosaic has planned a community meeting this month to talk about the plans and exchange ideas with area residents.
“We want to make the park the focal point of the neighborhood,” Ms. Campbell said.