Community Conversation About Downtown Concord

More than 150 share their thoughts about the Main Street redesign project.

More than 150 people, including city officials, politicians, business owners, and fans of Main Street, participated in a community conversation about the future of Downtown Concord on Nov. 7.

Later this month, the Downtown Complete Streets Improvement Project Advisory Committee, put together by Mayor Jim Bouley to find out what should be done to improve Concord’s main business district in the wake of a multimillion dollar federal grant to reconstruct and improve Main Street, will issue its findings to the Concord City Council.

The event, according to facilitator Michele Holt-Shannon of NH Listens, was to give the advisory group some constructive ideas in a comfortable, constructive environment before coming to any decision, so that people who might not be comfortable testifying at a hearing had a chance to influence the process. 

After introductions and an explanation of the process, the attendees separated into groups to discuss specific interests and ideas about improving the downtown.

For nearly an hour, the groups explored specific options and ideas for improvement. The ideas ranged from greening the byway to improving safety, offering better lighting, making Concord a destination, and even creating an app for Main Street.

There were concerns about parking, as always, and positive comments about the heated sidewalks and streets that will come when Concord Steam reconstructs its sewer pipes on Main Street. The ideas will be collected by the facilitators and submitted in a report to the advisory board.

As facilitator Bruce Mallory noted at the end, those in attendance offered 225 “person hours” of input towards the community conversation.

“This is what democracy looks like,” he said. 

Allan Herschlag November 08, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Tony, I just want to point out that while heated sidewalks are included in the grant application and funding, a snow melt system for the street is not. It is my belief that the combination of heated streets and sidewalks will have the potential for the greatest economic impact of all the proposed design elements.
Tony Schinella November 08, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Hey Allan, do you have any other thoughts about the event to add?
Allan Herschlag November 09, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Tony, I can only speak about my group. We had a mix of bikers, merchants and residents. I was pleasantly surprised that the conversation was much more civilized then I expected. While there appeared to be an honest desire to work towards consensus and compromise, the proof will be in what we see when the Complete Streets committee makes their recommendations to the city council. Did the Complet Streets committee really hear the concerns of all the groups at NH Listens or do they feel it's more important to follow the limited options that have been presented by the city administration and city council committees like TPAC at their meetings. I continue to believe that the greatest pitfall here is the abbreviated timeline that must be adhered to. There is just not enough time to test out some really interesting ideas. And my bottom line is that all aspects of this project need to add to the economic vitality of our downtown. And again, the timeline only allows for conjecture.
sandy burt November 12, 2012 at 08:57 PM


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