Find your adddress and see what ward you will be in if the new maps (blue boundaries) pass. Credit/Andrew Sylvia
MANCHESTER, N.H. – Legislative boundary maps are being redrawn across the country after the conclusion of the 2020 census and New Hampshire’s largest city is no exception.
The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) were given a look on Tuesday at proposed new ward boundary maps for the city developed by the Department of Planning and Community Improvement and presented by the City’s Senior Planner, Jeffrey Belanger.
Belanger told the BMA that efforts were made to minimize changes to the city’s current 12 wards, with the number of wards set at 12 under the city charter. However, he added in his written report to the board (see below) that while the current boundary lines would meet the constitutional requirement of no more than 10 percent population deviation from the largest to the smallest ward, it would be a very close 8.99 percent.
The ward with the most population growth was Ward 12 and in the proposed map it saw a loss of territory south of Goffstown Road and east of Montgomery Street, taking away 377 people and putting them into Ward 11.
Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirschmann said that the map drastically changed the nature of the Ward and that if passed, the ward’s polling station should be moved from Northwest Elementary School to a more centralized location in the ward such as Manchester Community College.
Hirschmann said that Northwest Elementary is a good polling place otherwise and praised the Planning and Community Improvement department for their work, but noted that many Ward 12 residents from the far reaches of the ward feel that Northwest Elementary is too far away as it is now. He added that he often gets calls from Ward 11 constituents who think they are in Ward 12 and collaborated in these situations with Ward 11 Alderman Norman Gamache. Hirschmann referred to Gamache as “squeaky,” a nickname that drew scorn from Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, but Hirschmann said was a term of endearment that Gamache has used for years.
Ward 7 Alderman Ross Terrio also proposed minor changes to the proposal near the western portion of his ward near the confluence of Ward 7, 3 and 9 near Queen City Avenue and Willow Street. However, he later withdrew these recommendations after other Aldermen expressed concerns about the changes to their ward lines.
Belanger said that Ward 7’s western boundary had been modified in part due to the growth of Ward 3 as well as efforts not to keep the house of current Ward 3 State Representative Jean Jeudy (D-Hillsborough 10) inside of Ward 3’s boundaries. Ward 9 also picked up some voters in that area, but lost all of its area south of I-293, 413 voters in total.
Belanger explained this balanced things out with Ward 8, which had to give up space near McLaughlin Middle School to smooth its boundaries with Ward 6, after an emergency redistricting in 2019 where it was discovered that McLaughlin was actually a few hundred feet outside of Ward 6.
Ward 9 also lost a block of homes along South Willow Street between Parkview and Doris Streets to Ward 8 in the shuffle, with every ward except for Ward 1 seeing some changes.
City Clerk Matt Normand told the BMA that he has been getting pressure from Concord to finalize the changes by Dec. 31, pressure being faced by other cities across the state, leading to derision from Ward 5 Alderman Tony Sapienza.
“I find it hard to take the State of New Hampshire seriously when they say to do something fast,” he said.
The map now goes to a public hearing, which will be scheduled by Normand at a later date sometime before Dec. 31.