My Turn: Main Street roundabout? Where did that idea come from?
When the Rethinking Main Street report was accepted in June 2011, Concord Mayor Jim Bouley told us nothing would happen with the redesign without public meetings and public input. But after the city applied for two grants, we found out that many specifics regarding the outcome of the Complete Streets Project had already been determined in the grant applications without public input. In fact, some of the information in the grants falsely states that public hearings were held. The grant also falsely states that the project had been approved by the city, when in fact only the report had been accepted.
For almost two months this fall the Complete Streets Committee met, reviewed input from various groups, city departments and listened to public input. Deputy City Manager Carlos Baia kept the public informed by publishing minutes on the city website.
New Hampshire Listens held a public forum to gather input in a less formal setting – a huge success with more than 150 people sharing their thoughts and concerns. And a group of Concord merchants met informally once a week to discuss the ongoing issues surrounding the redesign of Main Street.
In all the grants, meetings, charettes, notes, reports and minutes there is not one mention of a roundabout for Main Street.
So where did this idea emerge from? From a design and engineering firm hired by the city after all the public input and reports had been written.
How is it possible that after years and years of discussing changes for Main Street, after filing grants to fund work on Main Street, after accepting a report on changes to Main Street, after countless city council hearings, after a series of public meetings – how is it possible that not once was there a mention of a roundabout as an option for Main Street?
Yet at the 11th hour a group hired by the city believes this to be the best option?
Time and time again during the hearings for the Complete Streets Project the administration told anyone who wanted to investigate an alternate plan or who wanted to take the time to try out the proposed plan that there just wasn’t the time.
The city engineer tells us to trust him. To trust him to spring an 11th-hour surprise on the us?
To tell us once again that there is no time to investigate alternatives – unless they’re his alternatives?
This is why many in Concord don’t come to meetings. This is why many don’t bother to offer their comments. This is unfortunately what we have come to expect. One more example from our city administrators thinking they can pull the wool over our eyes and that we won’t notice it got dark.
If you are as tired of the bait-and-switch tactics that have encompassed this project, then call and write your city councilors.
Let them know that you are tired of being misled.
And remind them – because it is clear they have forgotten e_SEnD that their job is to represent your interests, not the in-
terests of the city administration.
(Allan Herschlag lives in Concord.)