If you’ve been downtown recently, you know: downtown sidewalks are becoming increasingly dangerous, and ugly:
Perhaps one of your shoes has gotten stuck in between bricks. Or perhaps missing bricks or deteriorating mortar caused you to trip, or even fall.
You are not alone.
Indeed, replacing downtown’s crumbling sidewalks has been a focus of the Chamber’s Downtown Committee for the past several months, which is why the Chamber was quite pleased to see that Mayor Ted Gatsas included $350,000 in his proposed FY 2013 budget to replace downtown sidewalks. And to ensure this money is included in whatever budget is eventually passed by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the Chamber needs your help.
While Mayor Gatsas and Ward 3 (downtown) Alderman Pat Long fully support funding the replacement of downtown sidewalks, this will ultimately require the support of a majority of the entire Board of Mayor and Aldermen, who need to hear from you, their constituents. The best way you can help is to write a support letter or email (sample letters available) to your alderman, and other aldermen you know personally, on this topic. In doing so, consider the following talking points:
- In conversations and brainstorming sessions with the City of Manchester Public Works Department personnel, the Downtown Committee learned that there has been no money dedicated to downtown sidewalk maintenance since 2007. We also learned the City is currently being sued by a woman who broke/twisted her ankle due to a faulty downtown sidewalk. This lawsuit and other, increasingly-likely injuries and law suits have the potential to cost the City much more than the cost of replacing the sidewalks.
- Downtown has the largest concentration of office space in New Hampshire; it is the business and financial capital of the state and the economic core of the city. For downtown to maintain its vital economic role, it is essential that the city invest in basic maintenance as well as needed improvements. If the City isn’t committed to investing in its downtown, how can we hope to encourage private businesses to invest?
- Downtown currently has approximately 1 million square feet of empty Class A office space, which equates to a 29 percent vacancy rate. What kind of impression does downtown’s ugly, deteriorating sidewalks make on potential commercial real estate tenants (otherwise known as job creators) before they even see the inside of any downtown building?
- The City has made a huge investment in public facilities intended to attract visitors to Manchester such as the Verizon Wireless Arena and Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. The Center of New Hampshire and the Palace Theatre are also major draws that are important to our economy. Downtown is often the first—and sometimes the only—impression visitors have of our city. What kind of impression does deteriorating sidewalks make on visitors?
- Downtown is the heart of Manchester and belongs to all residents because of the concentration of public institutions (City Hall, the court houses, parks, the library, etc), arts, culture and entertainment, employment and higher educational facilities. We need to make sure that we accommodate the comfort, safety and convenience of the city’s residents whether they are downtown to register a car or attend a public meeting, conduct business, or enjoy the many restaurants and entertainment destinations.
To learn obtain a sample support letter asking your alderman to support the funding the replacement of downtown sidewalks, contact Will Stewart, Vice President of Economic Development and Advocacy, at 792-4107 or wills (at) manchester-chamber (dot) org.