Manchester Master Plan

A Stronger Manchester Starts With Us

Aug 15

[ARCHIVED] From the Town Administrator's Desk - August 15, 2019

The original item was published from August 15, 2019 5:47 PM to August 22, 2019 9:59 AM

August 15, 2019

Exploring Options for a Maritime Facility/Public Restrooms
 By Gregory T. Federspiel

At last April’s Annual Town Meeting, voters approved funding to pursue two projects – public restrooms and a waterfront office for the Harbormaster – for either of the adjacent parks, Masconomo or Reed.  A public process for identifying the best location and design for these facilities is about to get underway.              

The effort assumes that the most economical way to proceed is to combine the two needs into one structure.  Providing an information board or kiosk to assist visitors both from the land and from the sea is a logical piece as well.  Building near the waterfront is not only very sensitive from an environmental perspective but also from an aesthetic viewpoint.  Minimizing the visual impact of any proposed structure will be critical as will anticipating sea level rise and potential flooding.  A structure that blends into the landscape, tucked in amongst trees and is easily relocated may make the most sense.

We anticipate hiring a design consultant in the next week or so and forming a project advisory group to guide the work of the hired professional. Representatives from the Harbor Advisory Committee, the Planning Board, the Parks and Recreation Committee and the Conservation Committee along with an “at large” citizen representative or two will comprise the advisory group.   At least three public forums are anticipated. 

The first forum will be a kick-off meeting of the newly formed advisory group to articulate desired outcomes and concerns to be addressed.  Once the consultant has collected base line information, laid out potential sites and identified an initial list of pros and cons of each site, a second forum will be held to present these findings and gather additional public input as to a preferred solution.  A final public forum will be held where the consultants will present their recommendations based on the previous input.  Of course, the final say will be in the hands of the voters when additional funding is sought for construction.

The goal is to have a location picked out with a preliminary layout and cost estimates completed by late October.  Assuming the project advances, we will seek grant funds to help pay for the construction of the new facility along with additional town funds (typically required as part of a match to the grant funds.)  An earlier grant application was turned down but the granting agency encouraged us to re-apply once plans were more fully developed.  

Public restrooms and a waterfront office for the Harbormaster are two improvements for which voters have expressed their support.  Of course, as the saying goes, the “devil is in the details.”  Flushing out these details over the next 8-10 weeks and garnering public support for the plans will be critical for the ultimate success of the project.  Want to get involved? Have ideas you want to share?  Let me know.  I and the rest of the advisory group look forward to your good guidance on these potential improvements.