Multitasking to enhance life in Manchester

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Making a good city even better

Screen Shot 2015 11 013We can both solve problems and build for the future

Part of what makes a city great in my opinion is the constant motion (or the always present “hustle and bustle” of a city). There is always something going on. In a community, as in a business or in life, I believe that many things can happen at once. So when I hear the comment that we as a city cannot move forward until the issues are resolved, I simply disagree. We cannot miss opportunities because we are blinded by that “one thing” that needs to be resolved.

Housing the Homeless Progress

Manchester is a perfect example of getting multiple things done. We have the ongoing issues of addiction and homelessness and we have a growing city that has so much potential and needs to take advantage of opportunities. We can both solve our issues and take advantage of opportunities so long as we are diligent with both. 

Before moving further, I want to take some time to review what is being done by our city to – at least temporarily – house the unsheltered homeless that are living on our streets. In addition to the FIT / New Horizon’s shelter, our city temporarily opened the Cashin Senior Center on the West Side as a temporary warming station, the city then got permission from the state to use the Tirrell House as a women’s shelter, and a winter emergency shelter on Beech Street was opened and has replaced the former Cashin warming station. Has enough been done? Should we be doing more? Maybe or maybe not..either way let’s remain diligent. 

A couple more homeless solutions

I have been speaking to people since writing an article regarding the homelessness issue back in early January, and although many believe that we are making progress to temporarily house homeless individuals, they also believe  more needs to be done to develop permanent solutions. Some also said that they felt that our city started this process way too late and now it seems that it is being rushed. 

Privacy Pods Hostel Living
Privacy Pods Hostel Living

Some ideas for more permanent / transitional housing options were given during my discussions with people:

  • Hostel-style transitional housing

One idea that was presented was a hostel-style building to be used as a place where the homeless can live until they are ready to live on their own. The hostel would be a multiple-floor building with several large spaces that house residents. Each resident would have a “privacy pod” with a bed and storage space. Each floor would have common bathrooms complete with showers, and there would also be community rooms with computers on each floor. Residents would use the hostel as their address and would have a mailbox (an address is important for job applications and such). Each resident would be provided any wrap-around services that they needed, including counseling and life skills training. I have heard talk about congregate housing as halfway houses or for recovery but haven’t heard ideas regarding hostels and think it is something that should be explored. 

  • Volunteer-led tiny home building

In a previous article, I wrote about tiny homes being built in Manchester. I have been told that there are actually people within the construction industry who are ready and willing to volunteer their time to build tiny homes for unhoused people who want to “start over” (a Habitat for Humanity-type of program). 

So why not create a “step-up” program that would allow those who qualify the opportunity to step-up from living on the streets to a hostel then to a tiny home? Or maybe there is a step between the hostel and tiny home that could be added. Of course my idea is that a non-governmental organization operate the program and there would of course be requirements. This idea, as with many others, should be explored. And as I always say, we should also see what has worked in other communities.

More ideas to enhance our community 

WaterFire Providence
WaterFire Providence

As I have stated, we can work both to solve issues as well as build for the future at the same time. With this said, here are a couple more ideas that would enhance life in our city:

  • WaterFire-type event at the river

In conjunction with a redeveloped Arms Park (whether done as I’ve written about several times, most recently last month, or another idea) we could have WaterfIre-type events on the river’s edge. For those who haven’t been, WaterFire is an art installation of over 80 bonfires that are set ablaze along three rivers that flow through the City of Providence, Rhode Island. Each WaterFire event attracts thousands of people and includes street performers, artists, music, and food. In Providence, there are speakers located along the river that play a variety of “unusual” music that fits the nature of the sculpture. Neither the music or WaterFire can be explained by me using mere words, so here is the link to view the WaterFire page and the link to listen to WaterFire music

Of course, the Merrimack is much more rough than the rivers that run through Providence. However, walls could be built along the river near Arms Park and the bonfires could be lit on top of those. And because the name WaterFire is registered, we would call it something else. But WaterFire has worked with other communities to build their own programs, so working with them would be something that we could do. The idea of a WaterFire-type event was presented to me by several readers. It made me happy knowing that I’m not the only one who thinks something like this would be a cool event for Manchester.  

Screenshot 2023 02 05 11.30.31 AM

  • “Market Walk” from Elm Street to Arms Park 

Another element of the redeveloped Arms Park could be a “market walk” along Stark Street from Elm Street, over Canal Street, the railroad tracks, and Bedford Street via a skybridge that would end just before Millie, the Mill Girl Statue. Pedestrians could continue to Arms Park by crossing Commercial Street and walking to Arms Street, entering at the south end of the park. 

Stark Street could be completely closed to vehicular traffic all the time or during certain hours and carts and people could be in the middle of a brick street. This would not only enhance the area, but would bring more activity downtown. It could be a destination if done right. 


Working to solve the issues that plague our city – not developing a “band-aid solution” but actually solving the issues – while creating an even greater city for people to live, work, and play, will help make Manchester an even greater city for all to enjoy. 

Stay tuned for more ideas to help make Manchester an even greater city!

As always, feel free to email me at with your thoughts and ideas!


About this Author

Brian Chicoine

Brian Chicoine is a New Hampshire native who moved to Manchester from Raymond in 1980. While a student at Notre Dame College here in Manchester, Brian transferred to Rhode Island College in Providence, where he met his now wife, Jackie. Brian and Jackie spent the next 20 years living in Providence and Manchester, returning to Manchester with their two sons, (who are proud Manchester natives), in the fall of 2017. He and his family intend on staying in Manchester and are committed to helping make it an even better place to live, work, and play.