MANCHESTER, NH – Ward 3 Alderman Tim Baines says the March 7 4 p.m. business roundtable meeting is still a go, despite the snowstorm that is expected sometime Wednesday afternoon. However, the second downtown forum, which was to follow at 6 p.m. will be rescheduled.
Baines announced the cancellation following Tuesday’s Aldermanic meeting.
The 4 p.m. meeting, which will be held at the Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., will be focused on business owners, says Baines. Mayor Joyce Craig and city department heads have committed to being there to join in the dialogue.
“There are some concerns that have been mounting over time, and I think it’s important to bring everyone around the table to discuss problems and ideas so that those of us in office along with department heads can work together to find solutions,” says Baines, who operates Mint Bistro on Elm Street.
He says he’s spent the past week going door-to-door to talk with fellow business owners about how things are going. He’s identified a few key issues, like how to make Manchester more business-friendly.
“I’ve heard comparisons between what it takes to develop a business in Manchester versus a place like Concord. Manchester can be a challenge, from what I’m hearing. In Concord it seems they have more of a “what can we do for you” approach. That’s something we need to look at as a city,” says Baines.
Baines also talked about the ongoing impact of the opioid crisis on downtown business owners. With shrinking resources around the state following the announcement that four of the five HOPE for NH Recovery community centers would be closing due to lack of funding, it seems inevitable that more pressure will be put on resources in Manchester.
“A lot of unintended consequences are spilling onto Elm Street, with aggressive panhandling and homeless camps. We’re trying to figure out ways to come together to work on solutions while not impacting the economic vitality of the area,” Baines says.
Other issues Baines expects to address include the need for parking as the downtown continues to expand with businesses, college students and housing.
During the March 6 Board of Aldermen meeting, Baines told his fellow board members that he has been doing some independent research, and has corroborated the need for public access to downtown restrooms, an issue that has been brought before the board by Glenn Ouellette.
“I ask you to keep an open mind in the coming months,” Baines said, noting that he hadn’t yet developed a plan.
A second meeting for community members was to be held at 6 p.m., however that meeting will be rescheduled due to the snow.
Baines says he’d like to hold two or three annual open forums in his ward, to keep ideas and conversations flowing and focused on the heart of the city’s downtown.
“I think there’s been a need for this for a long time, and I’m excited about bringing people together to talk about solutions,” Baines said.