Concord prepares for Clinton, Obama rally
President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at Veteran's Memorial Park, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »
Sept. 5, 2012: Former President Bill Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »
Victor Roy, 7 Loudon Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »
While the Obama campaign spent yesterday handing out tickets to tomorrow’s rally in Concord with President Obama and former president Clinton, Concord police officers met with the Secret Service to discuss security measures and street closings.
Nine blocks of downtown Concord will be closed by 3 a.m. tomorrow, the police said.
Just two days before the election, Obama and Clinton will address a crowd behind the State House on North State Street, according to campaign spokeswoman Holly Shulman. Shulman did not say where the presidents will stand to address the crowd or what time they will arrive. The security entrance for attendees will open at the corner of North Main Street and School Street at 7 a.m. tomorrow.
The police will begin closing streets at 8 a.m. today, said Concord police Lt. Timothy O’Malley. Green Street and North State Street will close between School Street and Centre Street. O’Malley said School Street will close between Green Street and Main Street. Park Street, Capitol Street and Prince Street will also close today.
The streets are closing for “physical issues with setups – and then there’s security reasons,” O’Malley said.
With Green Street closed, the Concord Public Library has shut down for the weekend.
“We’re very sorry to have to do this on such short notice to the community, but it just isn’t possible to be able to maintain our operations due to the president’.s visit,” said Library Director Patricia Immen.
The library’s book drop boxes were locked last night and will not reopen until Monday. Immen said the library will not charge overdue fees for the weekend.
More streets will close tomorrow at 3 a.m. O’Malley said North Spring Street will close between School Street and Centre Street, and Centre Street will close from North Spring Street to Main Street.
“It’s going to be very restricted,” he said.
Main Street will remain open to pedestrian traffic tomorrow, but will close to vehicles between Centre Street and School Street, O’Malley said.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Centre Street will still hold services and three baptisms tomorrow, but is encouraging members to attend services at 4:30 p.m. today instead, said the Rev. Kate Atkinson.
“We’re happy to accommodate our president as best we can, but it does make it tricky,” she said.
For 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services at St. Paul’s tomorrow, parishioners will have to go through security to enter the church building. Parishioners can still park in the church’s parking lot off Centre Street, Atkinson said, but should plan to arrive as early as possible to the 10 a.m. service. She said Centre Street will close “for a significant amount of time” when the motorcade arrives.
“We’ve had a very good meeting with the president’s staff and the team that’s making the arrangements in Concord, and they’re going to be as helpful as they can be to our parishioners,” Atkinson said.
The nine-block area closing down this weekend includes some homes, and O’Malley said law enforcement officials will work with residents to make accommodations.
“We’re not going to restrict people from going to their own homes or getting out of their own homes,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley said police officers will be stationed at every intersection downtown to direct traffic tomorrow morning. If residents need to reach the police station on Green Street, they can speak with the officer at the corner of Green Street and School Street, he said.
Motorists traveling in either direction down Main Street are advised to take a detour along Storrs Street, O’Malley said.
He suggested residents avoid downtown when possible, especially Exit 14 on Interstate 93.
“If people are trying to get to the highway, their best option is just not to go by way of Main Street,” he said.
Streets will reopen around noon tomorrow, O’Malley said, with some additional delays during event cleanup.
Parking will be limited downtown tomorrow morning due to crowds, O’Malley said, but parking garages will remain open.
The Obama campaign has arranged off-site parking and shuttles from the state Department of Transportation building at 7 Hazen Drive, beginning at 6 a.m. tomorrow. Some handicapped parking spaces will be available at the New Hampshire State Library on Park Street, according to the campaign.
Yesterday morning, a steady flow of Obama supporters arrived at the New Hampshire Democratic Party offices on North State Street to pick up tickets.
Concord resident Barry Albert said he wouldn’t miss an opportunity to see Clinton and Obama on the same stage.
“The two of them together – it’s a blockbuster,” Albert said.
As he picked up his ticket, Jeff Morin of Concord said he plans to vote for Obama but is looking forward to the end of campaign season. New Hampshire’s status as a swing state has been “nerve-wracking” for voters this year, he said. Still, Morin said he’s happy to wake up early and be in the crowd tomorrow morning.
“It’s a terrific opportunity to see two wonderful, dynamic Americans right in our backyard,” he said.