MANCHESTER, N.H. – No city can fix its problems overnight, but a group of local residents spent a portion of their Monday night offering input and ideas on how to address Manchester’s problems.
After several days various meetings and sessions downtown with Planapalooza, the city’s efforts at obtaining feedback for urban planning efforts expanded to Manchester Community Resource Center on Lake Avenue for an indoor community picnic and additional conversation on next steps for both Manchester’s 10-year Master Plan and 5-year HUD Consolidated Plan.
The session addressed a wide array of urban planning topics that face the city, ranging from homeless and housing costs to parks and neighborhood identities.
Marcia Garber went to several of the recent Planapalooza sessions and praised the event overall. However, she noted that attendance was low, especially at earlier sessions held at the Doubletree by Hilton and Palace Theater.
“I think this was an awesome event. There was clear explanation of the meeting and plenty of input from everybody that was here,” “Tonight is a pretty good showing, but I think we can do better as a community and I think one of the biggest issues is communication and getting the voices of people who need to be here to come here. ”
There were also plenty of ideas on how to improve the city as well.
One example came from Jim O’Connell, a Board of School Committee Candidate from Ward 2.
O’Connell urged greater public utilization of the waterfront area near Amoskeag Falls as a centerpiece of a full-fledged Riverwalk along both banks of the Merrimack River paired with pedestrian bridges.
The project he proposed would integrate with current infrastructure on both sides of the river in place and under development, such as expansion at Catholic Medical Center. Ultimately, O’Connell believes the Riverwalk concept would provide an economic benefit to the city and also metaphorically and literally bring together its two halves split by the river and I-295.
“There are enough pieces there, we just need a holistic plan that does something to eliminate or mitigate that I-293 divides our city from east to west,” he said.
Planning Consultant Tripp Muldrow hosted the event and was thrilled with level of feedback provided.
Muldrow has hosted comparable events in 40 states and said that in comparison to some other places, Monday’s event held a constructive spirit not always found elsewhere.
“The input was incredible, both the quality of the input and the sincerity and the passion people have,” he said. “One of the things I really enjoyed about this evening was while people were identifying issues, they did so with care and concern and we started on a note of positivity on why people love living here.”
Planapalooza continues on Tuesday while similar events related to the 5-year HUD Consolidated Plan will occur at a date in December.
More information can be found on the Plan Manchester website.