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Paul Feely's City Hall: Alderman Will Stewart to request formal study on one-way streets

By PAUL FEELY
April 28. 2018 8:58PM
A crash at Maple and Blodget streets in Manchester on April 11 happened an hour after city officials held a community meeting to discuss accidents and speeding on one-way streets in the area. (COURTESY)
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Ward 2 Alderman Will Stewart hosted two neighborhood meetings this month at the Currier Museum of Art on the topic of dangerous driving conditions near the museum. This week, he'll ask fellow aldermen to request city staff study traffic operations in the area.

On Tuesday, Stewart plans to ask fellow members of the Aldermanic Committee on Public Safety, Health and Traffic to request Department of Public Works staff to study traffic on Maple and Beech streets between Bridge and Webster streets.

Stewart said state Department of Transportation data showed nine fatalities between 2006 and 2015 on one-way streets in the city, while there were 22 on two-way streets. Maple and Beech streets are two-lane, one-way streets running north and south respectively, through the most densely populated area of the city.

Back in March, Public Works staff told the board traffic counts conducted at the intersection of Maple and Sagamore streets show installation of a traffic signal at that location is not warranted.

Stewart is requesting that additional data from the area be collected and analyzed.

"The first round of data collected by DPW was confined to average speeds only," said Stewart last week. "But to make a more informed decision on how we might improve safety on Maple and Beech we also need traffic count data as well as an analysis of the crashes - causes, time of day, etc. - that have taken place on these streets."

Stewart is also requesting that Public Works staff "propose safety and operational alternatives within the study area," using input from the police, planning, health economic development and other city departments.

"It would also be worth looking at what other cities have done to address safety issues on their one-way, two-lane streets," suggests Stewart.

Possible solutions discussed at the neighborhood meetings included:

. Converting the streets to two-way streets;

. Raised crosswalks;

. Traffic lights and signs;

. Trimming bushes at intersections;

. Reducing the travel lanes to one by allowing parking on both sides of Maple and Beech.

Stewart said he is "hesitant" to offer any specific solutions to the board at this time.

"While a number of ideas were floated at both neighborhood meetings, my inclination right now is to wait until we have a more comprehensive, data-based picture as to the causes and conditions of recent crashes, as well as the current traffic situation," said Stewart. "It is my hope that once we have this information that the most appropriate solutions will present themselves."

The Aldermanic Committee on Public Safety, Health and Traffic meets Tuesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

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A proposal to create a new severance reserve account using a third of future unrestricted general operating surplus funds goes before the Aldermanic Committee on Bills on Second Reading this Monday.

The account would be used to pay for unexpected severance liabilities not funded under the municipal budget. The proposal calls for one-third of unrestricted general operating surplus funds to go back to taxpayers, one-third to be placed into risk retention reserve accounts, a "rainy day fund" used to cover higher-than-anticipated employee health costs, and one-third put into the proposed new account.

Currently, half of any operating surplus goes into the risk retention reserve accounts and half is returned to taxpayers.

According to city Finance Director Bill Sanders, 22 municipal employees retired this fiscal year through March 31, compared to 12 retirements at this time a year ago.

Through March 31, $770,394 has been paid out in severance, compared to $408,112 a year ago.

In response to a request from the New Hampshire Union Leader, city Human Resources Director Jane Gile provided the last four severance payouts made by the city. They are:

Mark Brewer, director of Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, retired Feb. 28. Total gross severance payment: $102,154.31.

David Bush, assistant director, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, retired Feb. 28. Total gross severance payment: $65,287.87.

Pierre Boissonneault, engineer, Manchester Water Works, retired March 31. Total gross severance payment: $48,675.43.

Joan Pitman, accountant, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, retired Feb. 28. Total gross severance payment: $13,934.

The Aldermanic Committee on Bills on Second Reading meets Monday at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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It has been over a week since news broke that longtime city athletic director George "Butch" Joseph passed away, but many at City Hall still have a hard time believing he's gone.

Joseph, who died April 21 at age 84, was known for his tireless work as a coach, game official and the eight-year stretch (1986-93) he served as athletic director in Manchester. He also served as the director of the Manchester Babe Ruth League from 1976 to 1996 and was instrumental in bringing the Babe Ruth World Series to Manchester twice during his involvement with the league.

Joseph's family will receive visitors today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Phaneuf Funeral Home, 243 Hanover St. in Manchester, with a memorial service slated to begin at 3 p.m. in the funeral home chapel.

Ahead of today's services, several city officials passed along their thoughts on the passing of a local legend.

"Butch Joseph's legacy is the countless numbers of kids who were the beneficiaries of his efforts," said at-large school board member Rich Girard. "He's earned a unique place in Manchester's history for all that he did to ensure kids had opportunities to play sports and make something more of themselves than they thought possible. Manchester is a better place for his work and his passing reminds us of how one sincere and passionate person can influence countless lives and an entire community for the better."

"All too often adults with direct connection to youth are unaware of the lifelong impact they could instill on a student," said former Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long. "Teachers, coaches and mentors have that opportunity. Butch Joseph was one of those leaders and mentors that shined on one student at a time and his sincerity, compassion and genuine care carried these youth through becoming young adults and beyond. Manchester was blessed to have Butch Joseph serving our youth for so many years. Butch Joseph sparked a fire in many of Manchester's youth's heart that continues to burn today in adulthood. Thank you to the Joseph family for sharing him."

"No one did more than Butch Joseph for youth sports in Manchester," said Mayor Joyce Craig. "As a coach, referee, and athletic director, we all benefited from Butch's passion for sports and helping kids. You couldn't go to a youth sporting event without seeing Butch there. ... Butch's passing is a huge loss for our city. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

"He was actually my city athletic director when I was a young coach at West High," said Don Pinard, chief of the Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Division in the city's Department of Public Works. "He gave of himself tirelessly for the youth in Manchester. He was a wonderful man who dedicated himself to every young person he came in contact with."

Paul Feely is the City Hall reporter for the Union Leader and Sunday News. Reach him at pfeely@unionleader.com.


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