City planners issued a request for proposals (RFP) last week for consultants to assist in a comprehensive update of Manchester’s Master Plan.

The current Master Plan was adopted by the planning board in December of 2009. The Master Plan serves as a guide to the city’s land use and zoning policies, providing elected officials and staff a “comprehensive and legally defensible tool to guide decision making” over the next ten years, according to the RFP.

Planning board members will select a steering committee to work with the consultant on the Master Plan update, while sub-committees will be set up to work on specific sections of the Master Plan.

The current Master Plan is broken down into multiple chapters: Community Profile, Historic Manchester, Economic Vitality, Arts and Culture, Housing Opportunities, Gateways and Corridors, Streetscapes, Walkability, Alternative Transportation, Traffic Management, Trails, Recreational Opportunities, Greening Manchester, Sustainable City, Public Facilities, Neighborhoods, Downtown and Land Use Plan.

Some of these topics might be consolidated under the new Master Plan, while other themes may be developed that are more relevant today.

Once a consultant is selected, planning board members are looking for the update to the Master Plan to be completed within 18 months. The deadline to respond to the RFP is Dec. 10 at 4 p.m.

Let there be light

Just figure out how to pay for it first.

Aldermen voted last week to OK a request from city engineer Todd Connors to expand the streetlight network to several additional locations across the Queen City.

Connors went before the Aldermanic Committee on Public Safety with a list of locations where a resident or alderman has asked for additional lights to be installed.

The locations are as follows:

271 Concord St.

66 Essex St.

Pasture Dr.

3 Sentinel Ct.

55 Billings St.

48 Elgin Ave.

408 Porter St.

91 W. Riverbank Rd.

21 William Gannon Rd.

2146 Elm St.

339 Walnut St.

151 Red Coat Ln.

1515 Wellington Rd.

94 Marguerite St.

139 Riverdale Ave.

19 Ainsworth Ave.

142 Robinson St.

397 N. Bay St.

According to Connors, the estimated cost of installing lights at these locations comes in at $65,550.

Connors said there are no funds available for this work in either the operations account or an existing Community Improvement Project (CIP).

Aldermen gave their blessing to expanding the streetlight network, then sent the matter to the aldermanic Committee on Community Improvement to identify funding sources.

Iconic Gill Stadium gets upgrades

City aldermen voted last week to approve a $2 million bond to replace the synthetic turf and lights at Gill Stadium on Valley St.

Originally known as Varick Park, the facility has hosted baseball games since the early 1900s. The stadium was constructed by Amoskeag Manufacturing in 1913 and called Textile Field. The ballpark was leased to the Amoskeag Textile Club for their baseball league until it was sold to the city in 1927, and the name changed to Municipal Athletic Field.

In 1967, the stadium was renamed Gill Stadium in honor of former Parks and Recreation Director Ignace J. Gill, who served from 1935 to 1967.

The stadium is currently home to the Central High Little Green football, baseball, field hockey and soccer teams. Manchester West and Memorial also play their home baseball games there, and many other organizations such as Pony and Legion baseball leagues utilize the field. The field is also home to multiple youth football leagues.

In 2003-2004 the stadium underwent renovations that included the installation of synthetic turf. City officials say the turf has a lifespan of 10 years under normal use.

“It has become evident that the turf requires replacement,” said Don Pinard, Chief of Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries.

The current project involves a complete replacement of the synthetic turf on the entire playing surface, including all the base inserts, home plate and warning track. The current lighting system will also be replaced with more efficient LED lights.

Bid announcements are expected to be made by late fall or early winter, with construction occurring by mid-June — which Pinard believes will cause the least disruption to teams using the site.

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