Alderman in Manchester have beat a retreat on the weekend closure of Lowell Street between Elm and Church streets. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted last night to rescind the permission they granted to Penuche’s Grill owner Chuck Kalantzis to close the street on Friday and Saturday nights after multiple business and property owners came forward to say they’d not been contacted about the closure and didn’t support it.
Among those who spoke was Ben Gamache of Gamache Enterprises. He said he had more than sixty tenants in the area, including Gaucho’s Restaurant and Firefly Bistro that were negatively impacted by the closure. He said the traffic pattern in the area was already confusing and restricted and that the closure made it worse. He said he couldn’t imagine why anybody thought the closure was a good idea.
The owner of the Gale Motor Company restaurant said Kalantzis never spoke to him about it and that last weekend’s closure of the street devastated his business.
A representative of Campo Enoteca and the Republic Coffee House complained that closing Lowell and Hanover streets put businesses on Elm Street at a disadvantage. He floated the idea of closing Elm St. to provide those restaurants with the opportunity to expand their seating outside.
In favor of the closure was the owner of 1 0 8 7 Elm St., where Penuche’s is located. He said that it was adding to the vibrancy of downtown and pointed to the recent announcement that B A O was moving into the Millyard because of the environment downtown, which the closure added to.
For his part, Kalantzis said his only goal and desire was to improve the downtown, claiming he’d made big improvements to the property he’s renting for his restaurant and stopped it from being a rundown place that attracted the wrong element.
Answering his critics, he read from a Facebook chat communication he had with the owner of the Red Arrow and called her out for signing a letter that said she new nothing of the proposal and opposed it. He also shared a sidewalk conversation he said he had with the wife of the Gale Motor Company owner in which he said he introduced himself and exchanged cards with after discussing the proposed closure. She said she’d get back to him, but didn’t.
Still, it was clear that Kalantzis hadn’t spoken with all of those affected by the move, even just those on Lowell Street. It was also clear that he’s not met all the requirements of the permit issued by the city. A member of the state Liquor Commission’s enforcement bureau was on hand to say Kalantzis hadn’t obtained the required permits to sell alcohol in the closed off area on Lowell St. and, in fact, had only filed the application for that permit on Monday, two days after he was selling booze on Saturday.
Kalantzis was faulted by critics for not having a police detail present, as required by the permit, but he produced an email from the department saying a detail had been scheduled there at his request. Assistant Police Chief Carlo Capano chalked that up to an internal personnel problem, saying the person who’d issued that email made decisions she wasn’t authorized to make. Capano said he’d work with Kalantzis to ensure there were detail officers present given they insisted one be present as a condition of the permit.
At-Large Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur called for a do-over saying the process was flawed from the outset, which is why he abstained on the vote. Everybody needed to have their say and their input prior to such an action being taken and clearly that didn’t happen. He also said it wasn’t right that the police department would shut Kalantzis down for not having police detail officer there, which happened on Saturday night after multiple complaints from neighboring businesses, when they made it a condition of the permit but then didn’t supply the officer that had been requested.
In the end, Ward Three Alderman Patrick Long took the mulligan, saying he should have done more to get input from potentially impacted businesses and said he’d bring everybody together to work it out. He said he was still in favor of the closure, but acknowledge there were concerns that had to be addressed before it could happen. This will be back. And so will we. (Click here for more information about the topic.)
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The Governor and Council has approved a special election in towns of Auburn, Chester and Sandown to fill the vacancy created by the death of State Rep. William Polewarczyk, Republican from Chester, in Rockingham District Four. The primary will be held on Tuesday, August eighth and the General Election will be held on Tuesday, September 26th.
Three Republican candidates have filed for the office, including James E. Devine of Sandown, James F. Headd of Auburn and Anthony S. Rossignol of Chester. Democrat Kari Lerner of Chester and Libertarian James Jarvis of Sandown have also filed. Both will face the winner of the Republican primary. The victor will fill the remainder of the term.
Speaking of elections, the filing period for elected offices in Manchester opens July tenth. We’ll go ward by ward and let you know what we know during this morning’s show.
The New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) has issued a decision dismissing an unfair labor practice complaint against the town of Auburn Police Commission filed in October 2016 by the Auburn Police Union. The complaint focused on the Commission’s decision to hire an independent firm to investigate a police misconduct complaint, involving part time police officer and Manchester Ward Ten Alderman Bill Barry. The union complained the action was contrary to the general operating policy of the police department and was subject to mandatory bargaining.
In unanimously dismissing the decision, the board said the commission was neither obligated to negotiate the selection of a third party consultant, nor obligated to impact bargain with the Union over its decision. We’ve linked to the decision from this news read at Girard at Large dot com! Click here.
Police in Merrimack sent out a notice reminding residents that the town’s ordinances prohibit fireworks from being discharged between 11 at night and and 10 in the morning. Violation of the ordinance could result in the confiscation of any and all fireworks possessed by those in violation and a fine of up to one thousand dollars.
That’s NEWS from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!