MANCHESTER, NH – While a stream of farewells to Mayor Gatsas dominated Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, it was by no means the only topic discussed before the end of the evening.
Here are just some other highlights from the rest of the meeting.
Veterans’ Park Bathrooms, Revisited
Before the flood of testimonials for Mayor Gatsas, perennial mayoral candidate and local gadfly Glenn Ouellette came before the board once again with concerns over bathroom closures at Veterans’ Park.
Currently, the bathrooms at Veterans’ Park are open only during events.
According to a written statement submitted by Ouellette, Department of Public Works chief of Parks Don Pinard estimates a full-time attendant for the restrooms would cost $105,000 a year, with a $45,000 figure if the efforts were outsourced, and an additional $52,000 to update plumbing, remove graffiti and install security cameras at the site.
In the statement, Ouellette indicated that he will file a lawsuit against the city if the bathrooms are not re-opened by Christmas.
Comcast will be repaying Manchester cable subscribers to the tune of $122,000 after errors created situations where customers were overcharged in 2015.
In addition, Comcast will also repay the city for an audit investigating the matter, approximately $30,000.
Most members of the board were pleased that money would be returning to the approximately 35,000 Comcast customers in Manchester, but Alderman Christopher Herbert spoke in defense of Comcast, citing the $2 million they provide to the city through their licensing contract.
He added that the refund would come out to approximately $3 per customer.
In response, Alderman Anthony Sapienza was pleased that the money would going back to the customers regardless of Comcast’s relationship with the city, and that vigilance today would prevent larger discrepancies in the future.
Where’s the Flag?
Will Manchester’s new flag have frills (or fringes? Or whatever one wants to call those little yellow strands of fabric on the edges of the flag?)
It appears that will be under the discretion of the city clerk.
During a second reading reviewing the pending flag ordinance amendment, Alderman Pat Long voiced concerns, saying that the frills could fray if left outside and urged that only indoor flags have the frills.
Mayor Gatsas indicated that while nothing in the ordinance specified the frills, it would be up to the city clerk whether a flag would have frills or not in a certain location, with the assumption that the clerk would leave frilled flags indoors.
Under the ordinance, the flag is required to have a gold border, but no mention is made of whether that gold border is within the rectangular fabric of the flag.
St. Patrick’s Day Traffic Jams?
In an attempt to prevent future downtown event traffic congestion, the board accepted a report specifying methods to prevent future weekend event traffic congestion comparable to that seen last March.
In the event of a weekend where there is a possibility of multiple weekend downtown private venue events lasting more than 90 minutes near closed roads, the report recommended that requests be submitted to the Manchester City Clerk’s Office between 30 and 45 days before the event.
Public outreach and parking plans would also be required, and in the case of road closures, date changes or location alterations may be recommended.
Although some members of the board voiced concerns about clustering of downtown events coming up around St. Patrick’s Day without planning already in place, Economic Development Department director Melanie Sanuth told the board that it is not uncommon for the city to not see requests regarding large downtown events three months in advance.