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In downtown Somersworth, a microcosm of Main Street

Megan Doyle, towns reporter. September 17, 2013 

(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Megan Doyle, towns reporter. September 17, 2013 (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

One side of the street was in shreds.

From the counter inside Best Pawn & Exchange in Somersworth on Friday morning, we could see and hear the crews from Severino Trucking Co. digging up Market Street outside.

“We’re hurting right now,” owner Rafi Dalal said. “But we’re looking forward to the end.”

The construction is part of a project to rebuild Market and High streets in Somersworth. At a public meeting last week, Concord City Engineer Ed Roberge cited that job as one reason Severino Trucking has been recommended for Concord’s own downtown redesign. If the Concord City Council gives the project its blessing tonight, the contractor could break ground on the Main Street project this summer.

“What really drew (Severino Trucking) to us in our evaluation of them was their downtown experience,” Roberge said at the meeting.

Somersworth does not offer a perfect parallel to Concord’s Main Street project. The population of Somersworth is slightly more than 11,000; Concord’s is more than 42,000. Construction in Somersworth will be done this fall and will cost $4.8 million. As proposed, the Main Street project wouldn’t be complete until 2016 and would cost $10.22 million.

But the businesses who open their doors to a torn-up street in Somersworth voices many of the same concerns as downtown merchants in Concord. Now that construction has begun, the ups and downs of their experience are a microcosm for what could begin on Main Street in just a few weeks.

A few storefronts down from Dalal, a bridal shop went out of business. An antiques and furniture store changed hands to a new group of owners. But Kim Anderson worked the razor around her client’s head without concern. Fast Jack’s Barbers has been in this building for four years, she said, and loyal customers have continued booking their appointments despite the heavy machinery outside.

“It hasn’t been affecting our business,” she said.

To Anderson, the work needed to be done.

“Everyone would come in complaining about the roads,” she said with a laugh. “Now they complain about the construction.”

At Villa Pizza on Market Street, Abel Elmoraghy is more worried about the future.

“When they were working on the other side (of the sidewalk), we lost 30 percent of our business,” he said.

Elmoraghy has been at Villa Pizza for 15 years. Hoping to make up for a lack of dine-in traffic, he’s hired more delivery drivers to bring orders directly to his customers.

“If you guys are going to do it in Concord, you’re going to kill the business,” he said.

On High Street, owner Sherry Soldati-Pratt posted the hours for Poppy Seed Studio on a chalkboard in her window. At the bottom of the board, she had written “Construction closings: taking it day by day.”

Despite that warning, she has not needed to close a single day since the construction started. She praised the construction workers for being courteous throughout the project, including one who helped her carry her bags over uneven ground to her store.

“When you look at these old towns, it’s important to revitalize them,” Soldati-Pratt said. “It’s important to bring people back into the stores.”

Soon, she’ll be launching online sales to drum up business. The construction “provided me this opportunity,” she said, choosing her words carefully.

“I realize there are obstacles, but it needed to be done,” she said.

A representative of Severino Trucking declined comment on either the Somersworth project or the Concord project. Scattered among their many cones and signs in downtown Somersworth was one orange diamond that read: “High Street businesses are open.”

For more information on the Concord Main Street project and to read the full proposal by city staff, visit The city council will meet at 7 p.m. in council chambers.

Where’s Waldo?

In Concord, of course.

Gibson’s Bookstore has launched its third annual scavenger hunt for that familiar bespectacled face. Hosted in partnership with the book’s publisher, the monthlong promotion is open to participants of all ages, said Gibson’s events coordinator Elisabeth Jewell.

To participate, ask for a scavenger hunt “passport” at any of the 24 participating stores. Then search the store for Waldo – a 4-inch-tall cardboard cutout.

“He could be anywhere from an employee’s shirt pocket to hiding at the register to around the store,” Jewell said.

Once you have Waldo triumphantly in hand, ask a store employee for a stamp on your passport to mark your find. Turn in 10 stamps at Gibson’s for an “I Found Waldo” button and a $1 coupon; turn in 20 stamps to be entered into a prize raffle. The scavenger hunt will end July 31 with a raffle drawing and party at Gibson’s at 6 p.m.

“There’s no real point to it except fun,” Jewell said.

Market Days

Intown Concord’s annual Market Days festival runs Thursday to Saturday. During those days, the city will close the following roads in downtown Concord:

∎ Main Street from Centre Street to Hills Avenue

∎ Capitol Street from Evans Lane to North Main Street

∎ Park Street School Street from North Main Street to Evans Lane

∎ Warren Street from the parking garage to North Main Street

∎ Phenix Avenue

∎ Hills Avenue

∎ Pleasant Street and Pleasant Street Extension from State Street to Storrs Street

For more on the festival, visit or turn to today’s Business page.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Legacy Comments3

“If you guys are going to do it in Concord, you’re going to kill the business,”. Before any final decision to proceed with this 'Complete Street' project is made by the CCC, it should be put before a non-binding Public Referendum. Not just a meeting in the council chambers, such as the one at 7pm tonight, but an actual vote by the people, for the people. I am confident the result of that vote would reflect everything I've been hearing from Concord citizens; and that is, they don't want it. That's the responsible thing to do here. Let the people who will be impacted, vote. A Public Referendum is the way to go here. Even a non-binding PR would suffice. Does the CCC have the balls to do it?

Megan, The "parallel" to Concord (reference your paragraph #6) is that of both cities get down on their knees and "kiss up" to "Uncle Sam", which actions I find disgusting in that of their hands out to the hand-outs of Federal funds KNOW-ing that they come from an unlawful source! as there are too many M.O.C.'s (Members of Congress) per the penalty in Section 2 of the Fourteenth (14th) Amendment in that eleven (11) states that do NOT elect their and our "Judicial officers" have like in football: too many players on the field. Not only this, but that both cities KNEW in the Ed Brown case that Ed & Elaine were being trucked by U.S. Marshals over the Somersworth-Berwick Bridge to the pre-liminary hearings are a PART of the trial in Portland, Maine in violation of the 6th Amendment in that ALL trials (not just some) SHALL (not may, but this mandatory requirement) aka "must" be held within the state AND Federal district of where the offense occurred. Judge George G. Singal there in Maine was ORDER-ed by Judge Steve McAuliffe here to attend in N.H. but that no judicial action was taken against Singal who ought to be Congressionally impeached! but that Attorney Fed. Rep. Kuster won't do either her Section 5 duty in the 14th as instructed by me nor come down on her Brother-of-the-Bar Association in NOT to check and balance this corruption! When I pointed this out to the N.H. A.G.'s Officer Paul Broder to "investigate" this he said to me face to face (and then to me by voice mail that he now refuses to put into writing of his acknowledgment of such as wrong), that we live within the First Judicial "District" then Fed. Rep. Attorney Paul Hodes' secretary of Jane Pauley called the then Deputy Clerk of Concord Federal Court Dan Lynch (now THE Clerk) knowing that we live within the First Judicial "Circuit" who told her that Rule 72.5 allowed such, but when I checked that at the N.H. State Library that is for CIVIL cases! This was and still is a criminal case! And so the end justifies the means!? No! That's called procedural due process of law, and so BEFORE accepting ANY of these Federal Funds as a part extracted from the Browns in Plainfield and Lebanon, N.H. back in 2008 the City of Concord ought to obey the law too in that RSA Ch. 123:1 calls for the Feds (by their 40USC255 to 3112 officer as head of agency, i.e. the GSA/ General Services Administration landlord for his tenants there at 53-55 Pleasant Street) to file their paperwork with our N.H. Secretary of State (that they KNOW by U.S. Attorney Manual 664 has to be done!) of THEN to be RSA Chapter 123:2 exempt from the land tax but not the $100 million building that ought to bring in over $2 million a year in property taxes. They claim "exclusive" jurisdiction there but flow their excrement to the local sewer lagoon, since they have no septic system to be exclusive! Proof that they "speak with forked tongue" and that used to be acknowledged in a PILOT agreement with former City Solicitor Paul Cavanaugh, but that Kennedy now cannot find it. [ PILOT = Payment in lieu of taxes, to "evade" the law!]. And so not to do business with liars and thieves! When I pointed this out to the Somersworth COP-per he wrote me a letter saying that the Feds operate "under color of law". "the appearance of an act being performed based upon legal right or enforcement of statute, when in reality no such right exists. " Another phrase is the unclean hands doctrine: "The clean hands doctrine is a rule of law that someone bringing a lawsuit or motion and asking the court for equitable relief must be innocent of wrongdoing or unfair conduct relating to the subject matter of his/her claim. " Or, in other words: the motion for to expend Federal Funds here of "Uncle Sam" asking the City Council for permission to dish it out when they KNOW that a portion of the money be stolen! from two of our N.H. Article 12 inhabitants who REFUSED to Article 1 "consent" to these "other laws" of the U.S. Codes enacted by an unlawful #! that until this is corrected that of to placed this project in abeyance as out-of-order! To return the quality of the two people to their RSA Ch. 480:1-9 homestead before getting any quality work from a quantity of dollars.

I am absolutely sure that in your working years you never held a position which required an iota of communication skills.

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