Jan. 8 — To the Editor:
Scheduling two presentations prior to the McIntyre public hearing was just deliberate bad form. If McIntyre was important enough for hours of public input sessions, then it should have been the only agenda item last night. It was disrespectful to the residents who rightfully believe the McIntyre public hearing was important enough to be present on a cold winter’s night.
I learned more about the character of Portsmouth citizens than I did about the McIntyre. As a newbie resident of 10 years, it was humbling to be among them. We all love our city. Over 700 people have signed on to RevisitMcintyre. This is not the small contingent Nancy Pearson referenced at the recent EDC meeting.
Parking has been the singular problem Portsmouth struggles with every day, and yet it appears that City Council may approve a project which includes no parking other than for 77 apartments. Not a single extra space is planned, plus (actually minus) we will lose 33 free weekend parking spaces. Ironically, last week the EDC discussed how to use parking as an economic development tool. City staff and City Council continue to decrease parking requirements to encourage development by way of zoning amendments. Last night’s first reading to further amend (decrease) downtown parking requirements coincides with the Kane proposal. Councilor Becksted asked for just two examples of how this amendment would apply. The Planning Director refused to answer saying she will explain in two weeks. Bad form. Again.
The reality, like it or not, is that we do not live in a carless society. It would be ideal if we could walk, bike, or have an adequate transit system, but we don't. We don’t yet have a traffic model for the already exploding West End. The City Manager could post signs at Exits 3 and 7 saying tourists are not welcome because we are a carless destination, but then there goes the economy. There is no rail system to Portsmouth. No one can bike up and down I-95. We built a new garage at the far end of a far end, and somehow expect that to sustain the many proposed mixed uses at McIntyre? There goes the 95 percent occupancy.
As for whether or not it’s economically feasible for the developer to provide parking, who cares? Michael Kane, to his credit, is the largest commercial developer in Portsmouth. So boasts his website. Of the 23 existing projects in his portfolio, 21 of them are in Portsmouth. The McIntyre Project is already listed as a “project in progress.” 111 Maplewood Avenue is before the HDC (Wednesday). Mr. Kane, your success at McIntyre should not be dependent upon our sacrifice.
I understand Councilor Perkins when she says this difficult project involves trade-offs. Portsmouth, however, cannot afford to trade off parking to meet the economic needs of the developer, unless this project really is just about “the financials” and not about the public good.
And, just a question, how will DPW collect the trash from the McIntyre enclave? Perhaps I do qualify as a crabby pigeon feeder mentioned in Mr. Tabor’s questionable Op-Ed. Could be worse.