The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen met last night. Beforehand, various committees did their thing. The Committee on Accounts, Enrollment and Revenue Administration received a report from Finance Officer Bill Sanders that continued to project year end shortfalls in spending, largely due to the cost of labor union contracts that were granted by the board, despite they’re not being in the budget. Of additional concern is a projected deficit in the health insurance line of about one point five million dollars. Reserves in the health insurance expendable trust will cover the shortfall this year, but Sanders believes that the health insurance line item will need a bigger budget boost than the one proposed by Mayor Ted Gatsas in the coming fiscal year. Sanders said revenues from auto registration and building permits are running ahead of projections.
The Committee on Lands and Buildings gave a preliminary heads up to the designation of a six block area in the downtown as a cultural district that would, according to documents on the committee’s agenda, “spur economic development through an emphasis on art, design, and creative placemaking.” The six block area is centered on Victory Park, the city’s first park, and bounded by Elm Street to the west, Union Street to the east, Lowell Street to the north, and Hanover Street to the south. The district would include several significant arts and cultural institutions, such as:
- The Palace Theatre
- Manchester Historic Association,
- Carpenter Memorial Library
- New Hampshire Institute of Art
- New Hampshire’s first high school, which is now part of the NH Institute of Art
- and the soon to be opened Old Sol Music Hall, originally the Rex Theatre among a number of other uses and names, none of which have been good.
The new District would encompass all of the Victory Park Historic District, which was designated in 1996 for inclusion on the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Register of Historic Places and recognizing the historic and architectural significance of the four early 20th century stone buildings designed by famed architect Edward Tilton, the architect for Ellis Island, and William Rantoul surrounding the park, which are the:
- Institute of Art,
- Historic Association, and
- old Post Office.
Committee Chairman Patrick Long said the district would have no legal authority over any of the properties in the designated area. It’s expected to be approved at the next meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The board took testimony on a proposed zoning change that would facilitate a small expansion of Subaru of Manchester on Second Street. The change would affect two parcels zoned for multi-family use. Neighbors, including one that moved in six months ago and seemed shocked to find an auto dealership in her backyard, opposed the move, complaining basically about the noise and traffic that comes with having a business nearby. The testimony was referred along with the request to the Committee on Bills on Second Reading.
Other than that, the board received a presentation from the Department of Public Works on the amount of roadwork that was done last year and is contemplated for the coming year, including the proposed work to Elm Street from Webster Street to Queen City Ave. About fifty miles of roads can be treated by the department with the three million dollar annual allocation established by Mayor Ted Gatsas two years ago.
The board also rejected a proposed labor contract between the Water Works and the Steelworkers Union its employees belong to.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
District Twelve Senator Kevin Avard, Republican from Nashua, formally introduced Senate Bill Seven, which would tighten up New Hampshire’s food stamp program. The bill would require an asset test, require child support payments be made and creates a work requirement for the able bodied before food stamps could be collected. Avard said the intent of the bill is to strengthen the program and keep it solvent for those who truly need it.
Asset tests, said Avard, insure that only the needy receive help. He also stated that the work requirements, which include volunteering, are meant to help transition families out of assistance towards self sufficiency, using the program to help collect the more than two hundred forty million dollars in delinquent child support payments would help lift children out of poverty.
For those of you who are of the position that people don’t smoke pot and drive, as we have been told by pro-pot legalization advocates, here’s another story out of the town of Hooksett that just might disabuse you of that thought. Last night at approximately seven thirty, a Hooksett police officer stopped a vehicle that was being driven with its headlights off on West Alice Ave. Twenty two year old Brantt Paul of Manchester was asked to submit to a field sobriety test after the officer smelled marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. Paul agreed to the test and was arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana after he failed it. He was also charged with possession of a controlled drug and transportation of a controlled drug. Paul was given an opportunity for further testing at the police department, but refused and was released on personal recognizance bail and was given a court date of March 10th. Might want to keep that in mind before thinking about legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. The last thing we need is more people on weed driving cars.
That’s NEWS from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!