Putting the “Community” Back in “Community Development”

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I am a resident of Manchester, New Hampshire, going on three years now. My office is in Manchester, my wife grew up in this city, and, in the near future, my young daughters will be entering the Manchester public school system. We use the City’s amenities often, including the walking trails at Lake Massabesic, the playground at Livingston Park, and many other features the area has to offer.

 

As a resident, there are several things I enjoy about living here. The downtown area has great restaurants and fun places to meet up with friends. The City combines some of the best elements of a big city, with areas that offer a more natural landscape that makes it feel like a smaller town. Manchester is also centrally-located, so if I want to take my family for a day at the beach or a hike in the mountains, it’s only a short drive away. I’ve watched this community develop, and I like coming to work in the Millyard. The transformation of this area has been pretty amazing, and it seems like there is potential for even more development. One area that has seen recent development, including a new parking garage for Southern New Hampshire University, is South Commercial Street, located adjacent to the Millyard. This section has seen tremendous growth over the last two decades, and holds potential for more. Currently home to the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Hilton Garden Inn, and the Manchester Riverwalk, this neighborhood has a lot to offer, and could have so much more. However, anybody who has been to this area during rush hour or a baseball game knows that traffic congestion and general access can be problematic. For this area to continue to experience growth, and for residents to want to spend time there, improvements in roadway management and infrastructure should be explored.

 

On May 23, 2019, I was able to participate in a community charrette (fancy name for “gathering”) regarding this particular area of Manchester. Fuss & O’Neill is helping the City of Manchester apply for a BUILD grant, which would help fund potential infrastructure improvements within the designated area to both support recent and future development, and better connect this area to the Manchester community. The charrette was an opportunity for those within the Manchester community to let their voices be heard. We invited key stakeholders that live and work in the area, along with other prominent figures in Manchester. Our team asked aspirational, broad questions like: “What works in this area?”, “What could be better?”, “What most impacts you?”, and “What would you like to see the future of this area hold?” to develop a better understanding of what is most important to those that frequent the area.

 

The grant application is due next month. Our team, led by Linda Greer, Arnold Robinson, and Ted DeSantos, did an amazing job of pulling together this charrette on fairly short notice. When I was pulled in to help, I was not sure what to expect. I truly just hoped people would show up! And show up they did!

 

Approximately 50 members of the community participated in three different sessions throughout the day. Ideas were shared, concerns were discussed, and everyone involved was able to participate and collaborate in an environment that celebrated what Manchester is and what this area could be.

 

Seeing local business owners, emergency personnel, City planners and professionals, political leaders, community artists, and even the Mayor come out to participate was inspiring and exciting as a Manchester resident. To be able to witness, firsthand, how invested Manchester residents and its professional sector are, to watch them come together to engage and understand the current landscape, and to listen to the ideas people have for the future, has me, personally, feeling positive for the future of the area.

 

As this project develops, we will be sharing more stories. Please check back to see how Manchester develops and to hear from those involved in this exciting time!

 

By Mike Simoneau, Senior Marketing Coordinator

Thank you to Fuss & O’Neill for sharing this article with Plan NH! View the original post here.