To The Daily Sun,

The Town of Bristol is perched on “a precipice of change.” For years now Bristol has been facing a declining population, declining average income, and declining property values; all while the average age of Bristol’s town’s population is increasing and crime has been rising all during the same time frame! FACTS: from the US Census Data; Bristol’s 2016 population was 3,050, and in 2010 the population was 3,054. Quoting from the 2016 "Space Needs Committee" Report: Presentations from Lakes Region Planning Commission, Newfound area Superintendent of Schools and US Census Bureau. "The input suggests that Bristol will experience no substantial residential growth in the next 25 years and may even decline in population. At the same time, demographic studies show that the State of New Hampshire has the second oldest population of any state in the country. Bristol already has a population which is older than the state average. There is general agreement that the average age of the population of Bristol will be even older in 25 years." "The average household income in the State of New Hampshire is approximately $64,000. The average household income in the Town of Bristol is approximately $ 38,000. Bristol is not an affluent community. There is no evidence to show that Bristol's relative financial ability will substantially change in 25 years."

Most retired people survive on fixed incomes and therefore cannot afford to live in communities that lack present and future financial stability. Economic and demographic conditions in Bristol continue to decline but, despite being reminded of all these facts, the town fathers continue to favor listening to liberal spenders whom want to continue borrowing and spending excessively on projects the town cannot afford 10 or 20 year term notes on. On the opposite side are those whom urge the Bristol town fathers to exercise a more cautious and realistic approach to these projects and cite more “What-If” scenarios with the given changes facing the Bristol community.

One such argument to the Bristol town fathers is that “If we want to attract more people to Bristol, we must create reasons for them to want to move here.” “Why not show them that we are a forward looking community, instead of acting like dead fruit withering on the vine just waiting to fall off?” The community must engage itself in constructing a “proactive agenda.” This “agenda” will then act as a road map to guide the town along that path of change. To be a proactive community, one that takes early action to effect positive changes to, and for our community; not a community that reacts to changes after they have already occurred. We must be willing to look inward to ourselves honestly, assess accurately, face the facts, develop situation awareness, and develop a plan for the future that adapts the aforementioned into the development of a comprehensive town model for the future.

This “model” must be revisited on an ongoing basis and must be flexible enough to adapt to changes occurring from within our own community, as well as from outside. If the Town of Bristol does not honestly recognize that annual increases in taxes to pay for unwarranted “wanted budget items,” not realistic “needed budget items,” will NOT make Bristol a desirable place to live, but instead will continue to drive people away from Bristol as they have for the last 15 years and Bristol can continue to decline and slip into ultimate financial ruin.

The facts speak for themselves. Town fathers must modify their outdated way of doing business and not be misguided by the wants of a few. The willy-nilly misguided management techniques of the past will never usher Bristol into a bright future. If the Town of Bristol wants to address the “future of Bristol,” it must first begin to listen, face facts, freeze taxes, embrace austerity, and govern intelligently and responsibly. Then it must design and develop a plan that meets the community's future needs, commit to it, and then execute it. Bristol needs new stewardship, coupled with real leadership to guide it into the future if it wants to survive. If not properly nourished, Bristol will wither on the vine as other communities have. The clock is ticking, and the time is NOW. The Town of Bristol is perched on the precipice of change!

Erik R. Nelson


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