A happy September to all – as always the summer seems to pass much too quickly! The good news is that an overly hectic season of infrastructure repairs around town is starting to wind down. While additional work will continue through September the impacts will not be as great. However, for folks in and around the harbor, dredging begins in October and there will be noise impacts from the work, including nighttime dredging depending on the tides.
While construction activity will abate, there is a great deal of other activity for the fall. A fall Town Meeting is set for Monday, October 16. Please save the date! The items to be voted on are still being finalized but topics are likely to include a possible moratorium on allowing retail sales of marijuana, possible amendments to how the expansion of non-conforming buildings are permitted, possible updates to the affordable housing trust bylaw which track changes in the state authorizing legislation, possible amendments to our local wetlands bylaw that adds assessing aesthetic impacts to the permitting process, the possible transfer of the management of certain town owned properties to the Conservation Commission, a proposed new bylaw regulating the hours of construction activity in town, and a pair of citizen petitions, one proposing to prohibit parking on Beach Street east of Tappen Street and other streets in the vicinity and one proposing to prohibit dog kennels with more than 4 dogs. As the list of warrant articles is finalized in the coming weeks more detailed information will be provided. The final list of articles will be contained in the October edition of the Selectmen’s monthly newsletter.
The work of the Master Planning Committee is entering a critical phase. With a vision statement in place and a list of ideas for achieving the vision, it is time to decide what specific action steps should be taken to advance the vision of our community. Two primary themes are at work – preserving the small town character of the community while allowing for modest commercial growth that expands our tax base which helps to fund critically needed infrastructure improvements.
Numerous opportunities for your input will be available in the coming weeks – drop in Master plan Office hours on the September 13th and 20th from 5-7PM; conversation tables at the upcoming school open houses September 14 and 28; and a community wide survey soliciting your opinion on various priority ideas. Previous generations of Manchester residents have left lasting legacies that are very much part of who we are as a community today – think Tuck’s Point, Singing Beach, and Masconomo Park to name just a few. What are the legacy projects we should be developing today that future generations will be equally thankful to have?
A third major activity for the fall is the preliminary formulation of next year’s budget. While this budget does not begin until July 2018, an initial version of the FY19 budget is due in December. Identifying budget priorities, refining departmental operations, and refining capital needs all get underway now.
Challenges for our budget include how to fund all of our needed infrastructure improvements, including building needs; the future of our combination career and call fire department (even though we already spend significantly more than our peer communities on our fire department, the drop in call firefighters is presenting a serious challenge for us requiring some interim steps now); and determining the optimum organizational structure for our DPW. As the budget season unfolds, more detailed discussion on each of these topics will be presented.