Something is wrong at Portsmouth City Hall.

It appears clear that most Portsmouth City Councilors, led by our current city management, are on a path to attempt to close the doors on future discussion about the Redgate/Kane McIntyre Project by taking a series of votes soon, perhaps as quickly as at its Monday night meeting. In other words, making it a done deal, no more questions asked or better ideas welcome.

I have sent a letter to the Council that is on its Monday agenda in which I suggest that action should wait, and that with a citywide election coming in just four months, the next elected Council should make the decision along with the people of our community about what should happen with that enormously important 2.2 acres in the center of our downtown. What goes there will be there for decades, and outgoing City Councilors should not alone make that decision. The public will have an opportunity to speak on election day, just 16 weeks from now.

Fortunately, it appears that Mayor Jack Blalock has joined with Councilor Rick Becksted, who up to this point has been the stand-alone leader in bringing sanity and caution to the proposed Redgate/Kane project, in suggesting delay. However, that delay should not just include a public hearing on the proposal, where citizens will have only three or so minutes to express their opinions it should involve a revisit to the entire planning process with the inclusion of more of our Portsmouth citizenry and businesspeople.

I support the good work of Attorney Paul McEachern, State Senator Martha Fuller Clark, RevistMcIntyre leaders Bill Downey and Bill Hamilton, and many other citizens and business leaders in their efforts to encourage the Council to take a breather on this project.

There is no need for hasty action to approve an ill-conceived plan after a process that has not been as inclusive as it should be, and has in many ways shortchanged the creativity of the citizens of our community in offering better ideas. The vision for that plot of land should not just be more buildings and compressed alleyways. We can be more innovative and inventive than that.

About two months ago, Michael Kane asked to meet with me to discuss his plan. After his secretary and I spent a couple of weeks going back-and-forth as to where to meet he initially wanted to meet at his office, and I explained that in all of my time in government I have never met with a developer in the privacy of an office we agreed to meet on May 28th at a public location, the River House on Bow Street.

I brought along former Historic District Commissioner Richard Katz, who shares some of my concerns about the current McIntyre plans, and Michael brought Attorney Rob Ciandella, whom I respect for his top-notch work when I knew him since the early 1990s for his participation in Pease-related redevelopment issues. Michael is lucky to have his services.

The four of us met over coffee for an hour and a half, and after Michael and Rob made their pitch for his plans, both Richard and I were able to express our thoughts and concerns. One central point I offered was that no matter what this current City Council and city management agree to do, the plans are not conceived well, and will not see completion as planned.

Too much of the discussion has been done by a small subcommittee of the Council and management behind closed doors raising questions of N.H. Right-to-Know Law violations, which resulted in a well-researched story in The Portsmouth Herald.

Plus, the financials and severely limited parking arrangements and very costly housing ($3,000 monthly to start) that is hardly affordable for most of us doesn't make much sense for a high-density development slapped together into a relatively small piece of land in our Downtown.

My time with Mr. Kane was well-spent, and I enjoyed meeting him. I found much to like about him. Perhaps my only real disagreement with his work other than his McIntyre plan is his apparent resistance to outreach to union companies with which to contract his construction and development projects. Growing up in a union family and being supportive of unions, I believe that unions and the professionals who work in their trades guarantee the highest quality and whatever is eventually done in redeveloping McIntyre should include union trade workers. The center of our community deserves buildings that are constructed to last beyond bank loan terms and depreciation write-offs.

During our meeting, I told Michael I thought that he would be well-advised to stand aside from this project at this point because he has essentially been set up and used by city management to move along its own concepts of redevelopment of McIntyre. I suggested to him that he should join the cause of RevisitMcIntyre and support getting more people involved in the process.

It's obvious he hasn't taken that advice, and the city has continued and will continue to use Mr. Kane's financial resources in what is, I believe, a project that will not see completion in its current form. This is costing Mr. Kane a lot of money yes, with the hope of making money, but I do hope he's being careful and cautious, because at the moment it seems to me that city management has put him into a corner.

One of the final votes I was involved with as Assistant Mayor was on December 20, 2017 an 8 to 1 vote (I was that "one") to begin a process that I considered to be rigged and at that time we were falsely being told that there were deadlines of just a few months for the city to act with a development team. As we have since learned, we were misled and there were, nor are, "deadlines." In other words there is time to get this right, and considering that whatever goes into the McIntyre land will be there for many decades to come, we need to get this right for the future of our community and our Downtown.

Before using the term "rigged," I consulted my online Merriam-Webster dictionary. I found: "to manipulate or control; to fix in advance for a desired result." Then I found in what is called "The Urban Dictionary," especially relevant to this discussion because the topic is something urban: "The word 'rigged' is used to describe situations where unfair advantages are given to one side."

"Rigged" is a descriptive word. And it describes the McIntyre process from Day One. A process determined to get this desired result. And this isn't about Redgate/Kane; it's about the desires of city management to max out on development in the McIntyre plans.

This project, in its current configuration, squashes over 75 high-priced apartments and lots of office/store space into a relatively small spot of land while providing a net loss in parking in the center of our community, while at the same time squeezing out our Post Office.

I don't think it will fly as proposed, no matter what the current Council and city management does. There will be legal challenges, as well as required permitting of our Boards and Commissions. Plus, the federal government has not yet given approvals for what are indeed some questionable use plans and profit-making.

Yes, something is wrong at Portsmouth City Hall, but it can be fixed. There is plenty of time to get this right. To review. Reconsider. Reinvent. Re-think. The collective "we" need to revisit the beginnings of the process, un-rig it, and make better decisions with the foresight that hindsight now gives us.

There is time to Revisit McIntyre. Portsmouth citizens here now and those who will someday call this wonderful community "home" deserve better than what is being proposed. It's about us, and our future.

Jim Splaine is a former longtime state legislator, city councilor and deputy mayor and a current Portsmouth police commissioner.