We publish, in its entirety, the State of the City Address given by Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas to the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce this morning. Introduced and or speaking at Gatsas’ invitation to showcase newly launched educational initiatives Gatsas has played a key and driving role to develop in Manchester’s schools were:
Manchester School of Technology
Karen White, Principal
Manchester High School West – “STEAM Ahead Program”
Haley Nalen – West High School (Student)
Lucy Weathers – West High School (Teacher)
Chris Motika – West High School (Principal)
Jewett Elementary School “FIRST Junior STEAM Ahead Program”
Valerie Tarbell -(Teacher) Jewett Elementary School
Autumn Pelletier – (Student) Jewett Elementary School
Remarks by Mayor Ted Gatsas:
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
“State of the City”
MANCHESTER, NH – – Good morning everyone.
Thank you Mike for the introduction. It’s truly wonderful to be here with you this morning. What a difference a year can make!
Mike, I know it’s been a bit since you took over at the Chamber but on behalf of the City of Manchester I welcome you in your leadership role and I want you to know that I am hearing great things.
Thank you to Joe Riley and the leadership at Eastern Bank for sponsoring this program this morning. The bank has always supported city programs including STEAM Ahead which you will hear about this morning. I hope that after everything you hear today from some of our many Ambassadors that have joined us we can talk about exploring new partnerships in the city.
This morning I come before you for the State of the City. I am going to cut to the chase and tell you exactly what you want to hear. That is . . . it’s not going to snow again, and the sun will shine, and spring is right around the corner. Well we can always hold out for a miracle!
This morning I am going to give you a broad stroke of what’s happening in the Queen City and then I am going to do something a little different and turn the program over to a special group of individuals with exciting information to share.
As I travel the city I find the topics that people ask me most about are: safety, infrastructure – specifically roads, economic development and education.
Let’s begin with safety. In the past year we have increased the police compliment from 205 to 237.
I think the most visible presence of this is in the community policing division. Downtown every day a pair of officers walk the beat. They visit the businesses, address concerns, talk to visitors and residents and are a visible safety presence.
In the past couple years the Police Department has changed the way they police using data driven information and predictive policing methods. They have implemented what they call Hot Spot Policing. City crime analysts are using data to identify clusters of crime to find “hot spots.” Once this “hot spot” is identified an increased police presence is placed in the area and results in deterring crime and catching offenders in the act.
The data is very sophisticated and targeted so much so that police can pin-point peak times in a certain “hot spot.” As a result in the last quarter of 2014 this program has increased officer initiated activity by 89% and robberies are down 35%.
I commend Chief Mara and Assistant Chief Willard and the men and women at the Manchester Police Department. They work hard day in and day out to keep our city safe.
Everyone drove here this morning and I am sure you encountered a pot hole, or two, or three along the way. There’s no question we have had a tough winter and the roads have taken a beating.
This year the city conducted a survey of all 415 miles of city roads and rated them on a scale of 0 to 100. This survey gives us a baseline to move forward and know where we should, and can, maximize our dollars. Overall the condition of roads in Manchester is a 53, not great, but not a surprise. If you live in Manchester, and you’d like to know how your road is rated, or just interested in the study, there is a link to it on the home page of the city website: manchesternh.gov.
The same conversation about roads is happening at the federal level, the state level and municipalities everywhere – we are not unique. But just to give you a perspective, if we addressed all the roads rated below 50 it would cost taxpayers $120 million dollars. The entire budget for the city side general fund budget is $143 million.
We are addressing the issue and the fixes will take time. In the current budget we have $2million earmarked for a road repair blitz this Spring and I have proposed to take the additional monies received by Manchester from the increase of the gas tax of approximately $245,000 for a bond of $3 million more to go towards roads.
We are also attempting to convert the cities street lighting system to LED. I am hopeful it will get done sooner rather than later. In savings this conversion would realize approximately $650,000 in the energy line item of the city budget. This conversion will result in almost s 50% cost reduction and we could use some of this savings to bond another $3million more for roads for a total of $8 million in road repairs.
Here in the Queen City the most exciting economic development activity happening is in the area of higher education.
Southern New Hampshire University every time you look is growing. In the most recent statistics I read SNHU enrolls 25,000 students in 36 states with annual revenues of over $200 million.
The University of New Hampshire is set to move its’ entire operation to the new Pandora building. The University is growing by leaps and bounds here in Manchester and increasing their presence and visibility in the community.
Manchester Community College now has a downtown Elm Street location which is very active.
The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy has realized great success in the city and continues to grow and the same is true for the New Hampshire Institute of Art.
In the city of Manchester students are everywhere, they are contributing to our economy and spurring real economic development. The individuals employed by these higher learning institutions are eating in our restaurants, shopping at our stores, contributing to our economy and starting small businesses of their own post-graduation.
A study is currently underway through the Manchester Development Corporation to measure this impact. I think we are going to find that this industry has really helped to sustain Manchester’s success and the depth of it’s reach within the layers of our economy.
Also, real quick, in case you don’t have it, or you don’t know about it, the City of Manchester now has an app for your Smartphone. From it you can get city news updates, school information and report an issue, such as a pothole, to a city department.
So search the City of Manchester and download it today!
Now to the part of my program I am most excited about and that is education in the city.
When I started as Mayor the Superintendent of Schools was someone I am sure you all know, the late Dr. Tom Brennan. Tom passed just about a year ago. Tom was a wonderful man and he loved kids. Tom loved this event, he would come every year. If you met Tom you know he wore a pin that said “kids first.” Tom and I shared the belief that educational opportunity is everything in the life of a child and we set out to bring that to the Manchester School District.
Nothing gets done without the help of others and with all the wonderful things happening it’s important to remember Tom Brennan and the role he played in laying the ground work.
With that I would like to introduce some very important Ambassadors amongst us this morning. They, along with their principals and teachers are going to tell you about their program. I promise they are far more exciting that I am.
- I would first like to introduce Karen White principal of the Manchester School of Technology.
- Second I would like to introduce Chris Motika Principal of Manchester High School West and STEAM Ahead teacher Lucy Weathers.
- Finally, from Jewett Elementary School to represent the FIRST Junior STEAM Ahead program thanks to our partner Dean Kamen, Mrs. Valerie Tarbell.
Thank you everyone!