Category Archives: MHT Forward

MHT Forward: Building community pride

MHTThis post is part of MHT Forward, an ongoing series written by Manchester native Brian Chicoine. Brian also writes a weekly column for Manchester Ink Link, and recently founded the Facebook group Manchester Forward, which is dedicated to celebrating the Queen City and advocating for an even more vibrant, people-focused, and financially stable community that honors its history and embraces its identity as it builds for the future.

Kennedy declared his candidacy for president at Manchester’s Carpenter Hotel

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”

– John F. Kennedy

Service to the MHT

The Millyard and downtown Manchester skyline - photo by PSNH
The Millyard and downtown Manchester skyline – photo by PSNH

Having spent most of my life volunteering and being involved in my community, I find it fitting to return to my hometown of Manchester to help guide it as we continue into the future. While we move forward, we need to remember and honor the past so that we never forget what was involved in building and keeping our great city going. We need to remember where we came from.

As I have mentioned in previous pieces, Manchester has a history of destroying its past or neglecting things to the point that they need to be torn down. Manchester has made its mistakes, but they have also done some great things, such as restoring the Millyard. The Millyard district is a great example of honoring the past while building for the future with its modern businesses housed inside 19th century mill buildings.

The Issues

Downtown Manchester seen from the surface parking that dominates portions of the Millyard – photo by Ynsalh

Like many American cities, Manchester has seen vacant buildings, crime, and unemployment. The city has a sub-par citywide transit system and the regional system relies on busses, most of which have their closest stop at a station situated in North Londonderry, which is about a 15-20 minute drive from downtown Manchester, (not helpful to those who do not drive). There are vacant and under-utilized buildings that could be used for the benefit of residents and visitors. Surface parking lots are in abundance, taking away from the beauty that the city offers and taking valuable space that could be better utilized.

The riverfront is underutilized, with a major point of access that is near downtown currently being used as a surface parking lot with occasional festivals. Underutilized and unrealized potential are terms I use to describe aspects of Manchester. The public schools are seen as sub-par and the Board of School Committee seems to constantly clash with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. This non-cooperation and gridlock often results in lack of sensible policy that harms students and often restricts our teachers’ ability to teach.

Manchester has lost too many iconic structures like the Notre Dame Bridge, demolished in 1989 – photo by Ernest Gould
In a moment of epic shortsightedness, the white building and every other building in front of it in this photo were also demolished to make way for the Notre Dame Bridge’s uninspiring replacement – photo from the Historic American Building Survey

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