The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s Committee on Public Safety, Health and Traffic met last night and discussed placing a gate on President Road to alleviate traffic for the residents of that area. After a gate was installed at the bottom of Gold Street to prevent traffic from accessing the newly opened Super Walmart, motorists, who once used Gold Street to get to South Willow or want to get to Walmart, started to travel President Road. Alderman at Large Dan O’Neil proposed the President Road gate, with area residents in attendance to show their support.
The move was opposed by Ward Nine Alderman Barbara Shaw, who represents the neighborhood. She said the gate could breach the city’s contract with Walmart. Said Shaw, quote:
“I’m not as evil as people may think I am because I’m not supporting this. We have to follow the process.”
She added that she felt like she was being scapegoated because she was told to wait at least two months for traffic studies to be completed before adding or changing gate locations. Shaw suggested moving the Gold Street gate further west to allow area residents to access South Willow Street would be a better move.
The committee voted down O’Neil’s motion, with only Ward Ten Alderman Bill Barry joining O’Neil in support. Aldermen Patrick Long of Ward Three, Tommy Katsiantonis of Ward Eight and Normand Gamache of Ward Eleven were opposed. The committee unanimously approved Shaw’s suggestion to relocate the Gold Street gate when the time comes. After the meeting, Shaw told Girard at Large that O’Neil brought forward the President Road gate proposal without any prior notice or consultation.
The committee also unanimously approved a proposal from Parking Manager Denise Boutilier that would hike parking fees in the Queen City. If approved by the board, which could happen tonight, hourly parking on street and in the Victory Garage would jump from seventy five cents per hour to a buck and all monthly lease fees would jump by five dollars. Parking fees were last raised in June of two thousand fourteen, the last time the board was scrambling for revenue.
Following the subcommittee meetings, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen held a special meeting to discuss the school district’s budget. Many members of the school board were present to answer questions from the aldermen. Superintendent Debra Livingston presented the same tax cap and needs budgets previously given to the Board of School Committee.
Reducing the costs of special education was a large part of the discussion. Special Services Director Nash Reddy discussed the R F P she issued in search of a company to create a special education school that would allow many out-placed students to return to the district. Mayor Ted Gatsas suggested, if done right, it could be worth the two million dollars to the district’s budget. Gatsas urged Reddy to contact potential bidders with the idea of doing something that would allow the district to recall virtually all special education students it currently pays to send to facilities outside of the district. Ward Six Alderman Nick Pappas echoed Gatsas’ suggestion, saying some cursory research he’d done on districts in Colorado showed big savings.
Thing got a bit testy after at-Large Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur responded to comments made by Ward Two Alderman Ron Ludwig, who asked quote “how cheap are we getting” and Ward One Committee Member Sarah Ambrogi, who said she was all for looking at ways to save money, but not if it meant taking away things from students. She mentioned returning to half day kindergarten as something she would oppose. Using documents presented by Ward Four Committee Member Leslie Want, Levasseur argued that the city’s teachers and principals were doing a fabulous job under trying circumstances and that the only ones running down the district’s reputation were politicians whose only goal was to get more money. That created a bit of a squabble with Ludwig, causing Gatsas to recess the meeting to let things settle down.
Later in the meeting, Levassuer called at-Large Committee Member Rich Girard, a former Alderman at-Large, to the witness table and asked him if he believed the city needed to override the tax cap to fund the schools. Girard said “no,” stating quote:
“The original projections on the teacher contract proved to be right. The numbers presented to this board proved not to be. I think the school board has a responsibility to make up the difference.”
Girard cited the option of returning the district to half day kindergarten as an example of something the district could do. Quote:
“Is it ideal? No, but it’s better than ballooning class sizes in the elementary schools.”
News from our own backyard continues after this.
And then there were two! State Rep. Pam Tucker announced the suspension of her congressional campaign, yesterday. Tucker announced her bid for the First District seat now held by Republican incumbent Frank Guinta barely two months ago. Tucker released a statement thanking her many friends and supporters and saying the timing just wasn’t right. Quote:
“…with a young family and three daughters, it has become increasingly clear in recent days that now is not the right time for a congressional campaign…my first and primary commitment must always be with family.”
That leaves just Guinta and Rich Ashooh, who ran against Guinta six years ago, in the race. Dan Innis also announced and terminated his campaign in short order. Ashooh will be our guest in the seven o’clock hour this morning.
PoutineFest is on its way to Fisher Cats Stadium! The celebration of the Canadian French dish of French fries smothered in gravy and covered in soft curd cheese will be part of the New Hampshire Fisher Cat’s Franco-American Heritage celebration during their game on June twenty sixth. A limited number of tickets are available for the event, which will feature ten restaurants known for the savory dish. The Cats partnered with the Franco American Center to host the event, which very well could become an annual tradition given the dishes popularity. Tickets and all the details you need are at n h poutine fest dot com. All proceeds will benefit the non-profit Franco American Center, whose mission is to preserve and advance Franco history and culture. The Cats are scheduled to play the Harrisburg Senators that day.
That’s news from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!