MANCHESTER, NH – A proposed bicycle master plan will be heading to the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen Committee on Public Safety after spending four months in limbo.
The Manchester Planning Board submitted a request to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) on Sept. 5, which was then sent to the BMA Committee on Community Improvement on Oct. 3. During that meeting, then-Alderman At-Large June Trisciani made a motion to table the proposal, stating that there were still moving parts to be considered regarding funding.
While a request for proposals was not released by the Planning and Community Development (PCD) Department providing a solid amount for what might be needed in the master plan, the amount of $150,000 in one-time funding was set as a benchmark to hire a consultant.
According to a memorandum from PCD Director Jeffrey Belanger, efforts to find grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a larger transportation plan that could have included bicycles might have been a possibility. Money from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge Grant and unencumbered Capitol Improvement Plan (CIP) funding was also considered but solid funding routes could not be found and consultants interested in splitting up the master plan into multiple parts or offering a lower amount were also not found.
During the Feb. 6 BMA Meeting, there was a motion in the board’s agenda to take the plan off the table and receive and file it, effectively killing the proposal. Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long took this motion from the meeting’s consent calendar and moved to send it back to committee for further study and no requirement for any funding.
BMA Chairman Joseph Kelly Levasseur and Manchester Mayor Jay Ruais said that the proposal could be recreated in new business even if the “receive and file motion” was accepted, but Long, Ward 9 Alderman Jim Burkush and Ward 2 Alderman Dan Goonan felt that step was unnecessary and it would be simpler to just send the proposal back to committee without the monetary requirement.
“It’s going to be a long two years if we’re going to argue about (things like this),” said Levasseur.
Ward 5 Alderman Anthony Sapienza and Ward 7 Alderman Ross Terrio both said that their objections to the proposal were related to the funding requirement, not the idea itself.
Opinions were split on the board regarding feedback from constituents. Levasseur, Ward 8 Alderman Ed Sapienza and Ward 6 Alderman Crissy Kantor said they had gotten universally negative responses regarding adding more bicycle lanes in the city while Long, Goonan and Ward 4 Alderman Christine Fajardo said they had gotten the exact opposite response.
Kantor and Long both cited safety issues for their respective positions, with Kantor saying that bicyclists had made it difficult to park on Maple Street while Long told the board that he had received stories from bicyclists fearing for their safety as they tried to navigate bridges across the Merrimack River.
A motion by Levasseur to receive and file the proposal was found out of order since Long’s motion had been properly seconded by Burkush. Long’s request received a 9-5 vote, with Levasseur, Ed Sapienza, Terrio, Kantor and Ward 11 Alderman Norm Vincent voting in opposition.