Scott Welch offers new ideas for city council
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
Scott Welch decided to run for city council because he thinks Concord voters should have a choice.
This fall, the 58-year-old Borough Road resident became one of six candidates to file for two at-large city council seats.
Welch, who formerly managed retail stores and is now disabled, said he disagreed with the council’s vote in September to accept a federal grant for an armored BearCat vehicle. And he is frustrated that the Sewalls Falls Bridge has not yet been replaced.
But he also has other ideas that he would pursue if elected. Welch thinks Concord needs a 10-pin bowling alley, and suggested that one could come to the former Rivco site in Penacook or another vacant property in the city.
“It would be a good way to have something for the young people in Concord to do,” he said. “. . . I’m a certified USBC (United States Bowling Congress) instructor for youth bowling. Unfortunately, I have to go to Manchester or Raymond or Funspot to be able to do that.”
He also suggested attracting a business to Concord that would provide an indoor space for remote-control car and plane hobbyists.
“It’s just a thought, but it seems to be a thought that none of the sitting councilors are having,” Welch said.
He said the city does not need more retail development.
“More and more people are shopping online; they’re not going out to retail shops,” he said.
Welch said he would also like to help bring a grocery store to Penacook, and thinks the city council could better market the site to private developers.
“Well, we need to put it out there: ‘This is what we’d like to see there, well come on, private sector, let’s go,’ ” Welch said.
The city’s plan to redesign Main Street has “some fundamental flaws,” he said. He said he was skeptical of plans to reduce traffic to two lanes with a crossable median and widen sidewalks, because the outdoor sidewalk space can only be used for a part of the year.
But, Welch said, he would spend time listening to constituents.
“The one thing I would say is . . . if the majority of people in Concord think that Main Street project is a good idea, regardless of what I think, I would have voted in their favor,” he said.
Welch said he felt councilors did not listen to their constituents when they voted on a grant for the BearCat, because they heard from dozens of people at a city hearing and received a petition from 1,500 residents opposing the BearCat. The vehicle was not necessary, Welch said.
“It is going to be federal money, that’s very true,” he said. “. . . Where do federal funds come from? It’s still your tax dollars any way you look at it.”
The city council should not increase the tax rate, Welch said. Even though it has increased only 2 or 3 percent in the past several years, he said that was too much.
“Well, I’m disabled and on Social Security,” he said.
“. . . There’s no pay increase for me ever, but property taxes keep going up.”
Welch said he would like to examine city departments and determine where to reduce costs. But he said he would not reduce funds for road repaving, which would be one of his priorities for capital spending if elected.
On the issue of homelessness, Welch said he thought the city could partner with private organizations to provide housing and offer classes and assistance to help the homeless find jobs. He said the city council could consider using the state Department of Employment Security headquarters on South Main Street for that purpose. The city is now working with the state to find a private developer for that property.
Welch said he was not certain who would own or operate such a facility.
“I’m not sure, like I said, it’s something that the city could look at,” he said.