Elm Street is the main street of downtown Manchester, where everything happens. It is home to an abundance of delicious local restaurants, upcoming stylish apartments, and a great spot to open up your own retail shop. Elm Street has always been the destination to check out while visiting New Hampshire’s Queen City. There is a restaurant for every type of appetite and the future of retail is looking good, with the emergence of more apartment and condo options coming. What could make this main thoroughfare more appealing? Let’s make it more walkable! The debate of closing Elm Street has begun and everyone has their own opinion on it. Whether you want it open all the time, open sometimes, or closed all the time; there are arguments for every option.
The majority of people seem to be in the middle of the road on the topic and think there should be a reason for the closure. The recent success of the Hippo de Mayo Taco Tour brought thousands of people downtown and it was the first time in the event’s history that the city closed Elm Street. The event went very smoothly and closing the road allowed people to safely walk from restaurant to restaurant. The clean up was quick and efficient without a single sign of litter the following morning. Manchester Rotary Club’s annual Cruising Downtown Manchester car show is held every year downtown and has been the only event allowed to close Elm Street. The organization was “grandfathered” in before the city put stipulations on closing Elm Street. If the event is going to entice many people to attend, why not close it? Most people agree with this notion, but others point out the additional details that go into the whole process.
Trash pick up, police details, and proper notification are a few of the items that need to be addressed before closing Elm Street or any street in the city. Although these details have been successfully completed in the past, there are worries that it could cost the city more money with the increase of times the street is closed. Overall costs, safety, and profits for the businesses on Elm Street are also major concerns that need to be looked at.
Most people believe that we should not take the closure lightly and that the community needs to be involved in this decision. Ward 3 Alderman, Tim Baines understands the importance of involving the community in decisions such as this, and asked for a public hearing on the matter. The public hearing was held during the meeting of the Committee of Public Safety, Traffic, and Health on July 17 in the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall. Attendees of the hearing heard arguments from all sides of the topic. The one overwhelming message was that Manchester is headed in the right direction when it comes to events and businesses. Overall, the hearing shined a light on how closing Elm Street would benefit the city and move Manchester forward the most. Hearings like these can only cause positive change, because it pushes the public for their input and ideas on what would be best for the city.
Whether you want Elm Street closed for events or closed indefinitely, or open all time, the most important thing is that we keep the conversation going. The more transparent we are with each other the more we can keep moving Manchester forward together. Holding public hearings, attending committee and commission meetings, and calling your Alderman are all ways you can let you voice and opinion be heard. You can find contact information for the Mayor and Board of Aldermen on the City’s webiste at www.manchesternh.gov/Mayor-and-Aldermen/Aldermen.
Thanks for reading and until next week, live and be happy!
Ben Dion hosts The Weekly Dion live Thursdays at 6 p.m. on 95.3 FM WMNH, Manchester’s only downtown radio station. Follow him on Twitter @BenDionNH and @TheWeeklyDion. Contact Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org