Community Development Press Releases

Stony Hedge Farm Preserved Through Purchase Of Conservation Easement


January 16, 2019

BRISTOL, RI-Bristol Town  Administrator  Steven Contente is pleased to announce the purchase of a conservation easement for the Stony Hedge Farm located at 1362 Hope Street.   The Town of Bristol and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resource Conservation  Service (NRCS) have partnered to purchase the development rights to the Stony Hedge Farm property located on 7 acres of land at 1362  Hope  Street.    The Town of Bristol and the NRCS  each contributed  50 percent of the funds towards the $426,000.00 purchase price.  Town funds were authorized through a bond referendum approved by voters in 2016.   USDA funds were provided through the Agricultural  Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) administered through NRCS.

The Stony Hedge Farm is owned by William B. White and is one of only a few active farms remaining in Bristol.   Its preservation will ensure that this property remains agricultural in perpetuity.   The Stony  Hedge Farm currently houses several horses and is also used for the production of vegetables.   The farm property is also located adjacent to over  100 acres of Town-owned open space in the north-central portion of Bristol.  Town Administrator  Contente said “I am proud that this piece of Bristol’s agricultural land will be preserved and wish to thank the NRCS for their assistance and funding. I especially  want to thank Mr. White for his commitment  to preserve his land for future generations.”  Working with the NRCS  and  Mr.  White,  the  Bristol Department of Community  Development, coordinated all aspects of this farmland preservation project.     “Farmland Preservation is an important goal of the Town and a  priority in the Town’s Comprehensive  Plan.   We are grateful to Mr. White and are pleased that we could help him with the preservation of his wonderful farm,” said Diane M. Williamson, Director of Community Development

The Stony Hedge Farm remains privately owned, with the Town of Bristol and USDA holding a conservation easement on the property which prevents its development and ensures that it remains in agricultural use.

Economic Development Press Releases

Black Ships Return To Bristol In 2019

October 4, 2018

BRISTOL, RI-Today, the Town of Bristol and Japan-America Society of Rhode Island (JASRI) announced that the Black Ships Festival will be returning to Bristol in 2019.

“The Town of Bristol is pleased to help bring back the Black Ships Festival for a second year,” said Steven Contente, Bristol’s Town Administrator. “We look forward to working with the organization as the host community.”

The 2018 Black Ships Festival, which was hosted from July 13-July 15, included an Opening Ceremony, Martial Arts & Crafts Fair, Taiko Drum Concert and Gala. Over the course of the weekend, the festival had a combined crowd of 3,514 and local economic impact of over $100,000. Out of the attendees surveyed, 70.8% said the festival was the main reason for visiting downtown, Bristol.

“The Town of Bristol is excited to be supporting an event that boosts our local economy and brings visitors into our different storefronts,” said Chris Vitale, Bristol’s Economic Development Coordinator. “Our goal is to help make next year’s event even more successful.”

The three-day Black Ships celebration commemorates Commodore Matthew Perry, a Newport native who successfully negotiated the first trade treaty with Japan. Although the festival began in Newport, Dr. Patrick Conley, the General Counsel and Executive Board Member of JASRI, pushed for the move to Bristol because of the Perry family’s local heritage.

Dr. Conley, who also serves as Rhode Island’s Historian Laureate, noted, “Commodore Matthew Perry was the brother of Navy commander Raymond Perry, and the brother of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the hero of the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie. Raymond Perry married Marianne DeWolf, youngest daughter of James DeWolf, who gave the couple a 36-acre estate on Hope Street along Silver Creek. The 1680 Bosworth house where the Perrys lived still stands. In addition to that property, a portion of which is occupied by Thomas Park, Raymond inherited Hog Island from his father-in-law in 1837. Matthew and Oliver visited Raymond’s Bristol home frequently and stayed there when the Perry brothers built a warship in Warren. Raymond’s grandson, Reverend James DeWolf Perry, was a long-time Episcopal bishop of Rhode Island and for nearly eight years the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in America. The Perry family owned the Bosworth- Perry House until 1957.”

The 36th Annual Black Ships Festival returns to Bristol starting Friday, August 9, 2019, at Independence Park. Additional information on the celebration will be announced at a later date.

Economic Development Press Releases

Bristol Receives Qualified Opportunity Zone Designation By U.S. Treasury


May 21, 2018

BRISTOL, RI-On May 21, 2018, the U.S. Treasury designated the Town of Bristol’s Census Tract 307 as a Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ). Created as part of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, the Opportunity Zones Program is a new approach to encourage private-investment in low-income neighborhoods around the country.

These investments come in the form of U.S. Treasury Certified Opportunity Funds. Investors with capital gains tax liabilities will be able to make equity investments in businesses and real estate. Individuals do not need to live in a Qualified Opportunity Zone to invest in these funds.

“This gives Bristol another tool to attract new investment into town while also making a positive impact in the areas of our community that need it the most,” said Chris Vitale, Bristol’s Economic Development Coordinator, “We look forward to working with the State and Federal government on rolling out this program.” Census Tract 307 was one of 25 area in Rhode Island nominated by Governor Gina M. Raimondo for this program. Among the areas included in Census Tract 307 are Bristol’s Historic Downtown and Wood Street neighborhood.

The Opportunity Zones Program offers three tax benefits for investing in a qualified Opportunity Fund. This program will allow investors to defer paying capital gains taxes on funds invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund, provide a gradual reduction of their original taxable capital gains, and provide a permanent exclusion from taxes on capital gains realized in the investment if it’s held for over 10 years.

In the coming weeks, the Town of Bristol will be providing additional program details and resources on its website. For questions regarding the Opportunity Zone Program, please contact Chris Vitale, Economic Development Coordinator at [email protected]