Mayor Joyce Craig says her time spent last month at a national leadership conference was a “great experience,” connecting city officials with national experts ready to help with a very local issue -- safety on one-way streets.

Craig attended the 2018 Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD) Nov. 14-16, where she presented and received expert feedback and analysis on design opportunities in the Queen City.

MICD is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors. Attendance is limited to eight mayors, eight design and development professionals, and MICD partners.

Craig’s trip at “zero cost to the city,” with everything covered by the Mayor’s Institute, including flights and hotel.

Participating mayors heard from experts in areas such as architecture, city planning, real estate development and transportation planning on how they can approach the design and development challenges facing each of their cities.

“It was really interesting to hear all the case studies from the other mayors brought forward,” Craig said. “Although very different, we shared a lot of similarities and we share the same challenges. There were experts in the room with us and we took a lot out of the feedback they gave us.”

Craig said some of the topics discussed were “eye-opening,” including discussions on design.

“For example, where (design) can really make a big difference,” Craig said. “Not only aesthetically, but how people are feeling in a community and in an area, and how important it is.”

Craig said another topic discussed was how communities are working to make one-way streets safer - a relevant topic, given ongoing talks on ways to cut down speeding and reduce accidents in the city’s North End.

As previously reported by the New Hampshire Union Leader, 337 accidents were reported between 2015 and 2017 at 12 intersections along the Maple, Beech, and Union street corridors between Webster and Bridge streets in Manchester, according to city public works and police staff.

Eighty four of those crashes were reported along the Maple Street corridor, 102 crashes were reported along the Beech Street corridor, and 150 crashes occurred along Union Street. According to city officials, the most common crash types at all three locations were "running a red light," "rear-end collisions" and "left-turning traffic failing to yield to oncoming vehicles."

The city converted Maple and Beech to one-ways in 1973, part of an urban renewal project that emphasized moving people in and out of city quickly.

Craig said the topic of one-way streets came up “a lot” at MICD.

“At one point in time, the thing to do was to turn streets into one-way streets, but now we are dealing with a increase in accidents and speeding,” Craig said. “So the experts are saying take a step back from one-way streets and look at streets from a complete-use perspective. Not building streets so that cars can get through as quick as possible, but build streets and thru-ways in ways that promote safe traffic. For pedestrian traffic, bikers and everybody in a safe manner. It was an interesting conversation.”

By taking part in MICD, Craig now has access to institute experts for the next year.

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A request from Don Pinard, chief of Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries, and Sara Beaudry, executive director of Intown Manchester, to use a city-owned piece of land for a new park goes before city aldermen for approval Tuesday night.

The site, currently deemed to be a buildable, sellable lot adjacent to the Lamont Hanley Building at 1138 Elm St., near the intersection with Bridge Street.

“We would like to propose that this lot or green space be rezoned as a park so improvements can be made, turning an unused lot into a small gathering place and entry way to downtown,” Beaudry wrote in a letter to aldermen.

According to Beaudry, the $30,000 price tag would be of “no cost to the city” because the funds have been privately raised.

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Finally, the Chabad Center for Jewish Living invites all to celebrate the eighth and final night of Chanukah with a story time and craft - along with kosher donuts and cocoa - at The Bookery, 844 Elm St., followed by a Menorah lighting at City Hall on Sunday, Dec. 9 starting at 4 p.m.

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