Portsmouth City Council candidates glance 1

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<ul><li><p>7/27/2019 Portsmouth City Council candidates glance 1</p><p> 1/1</p><p>A4 PORTSMOUTH HERALD MONDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2013 WWW.SEACOASTONLINE.COM</p><p>P O R T S M O U T H C I T Y C O U N C I L R A C E</p><p>Rick Becksted Jr.Address: 1395 Islington St.Age: 42</p><p>Justin BethelAddress: 17 Dover St.Age: 31</p><p>Mark BrightonAddress: 285 Union St.Age: 61</p><p>Joe CaldarolaAddress: 170 Dennett St.Age: 62</p><p>What is your solution to thecurrent parking shortage indowntown?</p><p>Do you support the conceptsof form-based zoning as away to encourage respon-sible development?</p><p>Do you feel the cityhas enough publictransportation?</p><p>Give us your philosophyon the budget and what yourpriorities are when it comesto funding education andpublic safety.</p><p>Do you support extend-</p><p>ing last call for bars inPortsmouth until 2 a.m.?</p><p>Where do you think the cityshould build a senior centerand why?</p><p>What is your overall positionon overtime wages?</p><p>With many union contractsexpected to expire in 2014,what do you hope the cityachieves through the collec-tive bargaining process?</p><p>In what ways can the citybolster public participationand input?</p><p>Identify an issue notmentioned above thatyou feel should bea priority in the comingyears.</p><p>I believe the first question you have to ask is,why are we leasing out so many spaces in ourcurrent garage. Our fair city and its taxpayersbuilt a garage some 28 years ago. Yes, evenback then we had parking issues just like today.Building one more garage will only be a short-term fix. Then another will be needed. That woulddefinitely ease the parking burden for now.</p><p>Id rather be putting the $30 million or moreinto projects like our elementary schools thatare desperate for change. Oh, and let us notforget about $70 million-plus in upgrades in oursewer treatment plant. So lets just tell the kidsand residents of Portsmouth theyll just have towait a little bit longer.</p><p>To me, form-based zoning means having acontrolled and appealing look, and is compatiblewith surrounding buildings. The HDC was createdto protect the character of our city. In the past,it has always lived up to those responsibilities,safeguarding this character. The HDC has alwaysbeen able to say how tall, how big and educatingdevelopers on how to make a building fit withPortsmouth and its history. With that said, I fearthe city has very little ground to stand on regard-ing future developments, given what has beenapproved in the Northern Tier. How do you sayno to a building surrounded by big buildings? Weneed to protect whats left before its too late.</p><p>If more public transportation is truly needed,then it is up to the city to encourage COASTand others to create more routes and morevehicles. Then we need to encourage the localsto use them.</p><p>In my mind, these are the two most importantitems in our budget. Being a Portsmouth gradu-ate myself, I take great pride in having both ofmy children in our school system. I truly believemy children will prosper as I have. It is all aboutthe kids. Public safety has taken on a wholenew meaning in the downtown with the large-scale developments. While the tax base may beincreased, I believe the services consumed willoutstrip whatever revenue gain there will be.We need to fund this increased demand in ourpublic safety without demanding more from theresidents, such as using impact fees. I know Idont need a six-story ladder truck at my house.</p><p>No, I see no benefit for the city or the resi-dents.</p><p>The Doble Center is a good location, but for acommunity center for both seniors and chil-dren. A 2-for-1 concept would be the direction Iwould take: the bridge and interaction betweenthe past and the future. The money raised bythe sale of the Connie Bean Center would getus going in the right direction. It would also giveus a true center for our kids, not just a gym. Igrew up in the Connie Bean Center a long timeago. Where are your kids going to grow?</p><p>This is a topic everyone avoids. Emergencies,be they weather or public safety, can neverbe predicted or prevented. We need to beprepared for all emergencies, while alwayswatching the bottom line.</p><p>The council will need to ensure the contractsare in the best interests of the city and itsworkers. The services are crucial and desired.We just need to make sure we are living withinour means.</p><p>Advance notice certainly comes to mind. Weseem to react more defensively when broughtinto a project late, which is natural. SometimesI wonder whose interests the city is look-ing out for. Being up-front goes a long way.Neighborhoods and residents are countingon the city and sta to truly secure their bestinterests, as well as all of Portsmouth, not justan area here or there on a map. Being trans-</p><p>parent is key. As soon as the city knows, theresidents should, too.</p><p>I feel that everyone seems to be forgetting thatour city is not just downtown. Portsmouth ismade up of five wards, a diverse collection ofmany wonderful neighborhoods surroundingthe historic center. Weve managed to surviveanother recession and come out strong. Itsgreat that our city attracts people from all over,but we need to start putting the residents first.Meeting the needs of the tourist over the needsof the residents just doesnt make sense.</p><p>Downtown needs another pay-by-hour parkinggarage. There should be a section for down-town residents to rent a space for a year if theydo not have o-street. There should also be anallotment of free spaces specifically for resi-dents that work downtown so they dont needto feed meters all day while at work.</p><p>Downtown development should be looked at ona case-by-case basis with significant consid-eration to the form-based zoning codes as well</p><p>as the environment and how it will benefit thefuture of Portsmouth.</p><p>Yes, I believe the citys public transportation isadequate; however, there is a shortage of taxiservices. Portsmouth needs more cabs avail-able, especially on nights and weekends.</p><p>Education and public safety deserve to be twoof the top recipients of budget allocations. Theyboth need to be able to function at the highestof levels.</p><p>Its an interesting question because if it werepushed to 2 a.m., it still remains the bar/res-</p><p>taurant owners discretion as to when to closetheir establishment. That said, yes, I supporta 2 a.m. last call, which ties in to the need formore taxi services.</p><p>The unused space where the old movie theateron Lafayette Road is would make a great seniorcenter. It is a large, central location that is des-perately in the need of a purpose.</p><p>Overtime should be oered when necessaryon a volunteer basis. It needs to be monitoredcarefully and should not be abused.</p><p>Hopefully, the city can save money where it canwhile still providing fair wages and benefits toits union workers.</p><p>We need to give distributive parking an honesteort before doing anything else. Chicken Little,we do not need. Perhaps the best illustrationis the restaurateur who complained of losingreservation diners because of parking. Therest of the story is that the seats were filledimmediately by walk-ins. Boston is a thrivingcity with phenomenal parking woes and withoverflowing restaurants. This issue is broaderthan the number of parking spaces we do or donot have.</p><p>I like what I see with the proposed ordinance.The focus is on look and feel rather than justusage and dimensions. If we intend on preserv-ing character, this may be the way to go. Asa local architect stated to me, in essence, thedevil will be in the details. We need a strongHistoric District Commission with the vision topreserve and enhance our cityscape.</p><p>A nearly 400-year-old city, with streets formedfrom cow paths, has no place on its streetsfor bicycle lanes or other innovations. We haveto work with what we have, and not what wewish we had. The larger issue is a regional one,not just how we get around the city, but howwe get from one city to the next.</p><p>COAST Bus Service has been running regionallyin one form or another since the 80s. If the public</p><p>truly wants public transportation, then companiessuch as COAST or a competitor will flourish. If thepublic doesnt, then they wont. The decision is inthe hands of the public and not the City Council.</p><p>The budget has increased at double the rate ofinflation for several years. That has to stop. Ithas been stated that the budget is 85 percentpersonnel-driven. Union contracts will be com-ing up shortly. We have to address i t with them.Priorities are police/fire, schools, then themunicipal departments.</p><p>No! If the kids cant get drunk and find a date by1 a.m., then too bad!</p><p>I view it as a necessary service. The where andwhy are less important than the funding, as thecity owns nearly 200 properties, and one ortwo of those would provide appropriate space.Perhaps the money could come from the rainyday fund, as the set-up would be a one-timeexpense.</p><p>The problem is not whether we pay overtime. Itis not the councils place to micromanage. Theproblem is with the underlying wages and ben-efits upon which this overtime is based. Eachdepartment should be given a budget amountand set its own priorities.</p><p>Medical expenses have become a real driver.Change health plans to the less-expensiveSchoolCare. If we assume that as a baseline,it does not seem u nreasonable for employeesto pay the cost that is greater than the rate ofinflation. That would line up with private sectorinsurance/retirement plans. It is, after all, theprivate sector that pays for these line items.</p><p>Public participation cannot come from somecity magic wand. There has been a devil of atime getting volunteers for city boards. We havea fine community, but people become compla-cent and believe someone else will do it. Civicduty should be a motivator. City governmentcannot (motivate participation).</p><p>The budget and development are inextricablylinked. The budget has increased at twice therate of inflation for several years. Propertytaxes are less so. The dierence is the revenuethat development of all shapes has generated.This development market will slow. PeterFrancese, a demographer, says that as NewHampshire baby boomers go gray, retail mayslow, causing a stagnation in commercial realestate among other problems. When these rev-enue sources the city has relied upon vanish,the local taxpayer will be stuck with the wholebudget. The cautionary tale is in the cities andstates already tipping into bankruptcy.</p><p>I support pursuing the alternatives to a down-town garage made by the Portsmouth ListensStudy group, such as a distributed parkingsystem, pricing incentives, wayfinding, etc., toreduce the tra c congestio n downtown and tobetter manage the parking that exists. After all,these are the residents of Portsmouth, isnt itabout time we start listening?</p><p>Yes, it requires that new buildings scale toneighboring buildings, but i t is not su cient.The character of our city is being damaged bythese new big-block buildings. The land useboards should protect our citys character. Inmy platform, I propose nine specific changes tothe zoning ordinance to increase transparency,increase the opportunity for, and the eec-tiveness of, public comment, and reform theproceedures of the land use boards.</p><p>The Portsmouth Listens Study Circles identi-fied trolleys on the major streets as the nextpriority for public transportation. This could tieinto distributed parking, with trolleys doublingas transport to parking during peak demand aswell as to stores and services. Islington Streetcould be an interesting example.</p><p>Public safety, education, and infrastructure areall critical priorities for our city. At the sametime, we need to control spending and stop theever-upward creep of property taxes. Thesetax increases are a particular burden to thoseon fixed incomes. I will work with my fellowcouncilors and city sta to ferret out savingswherever possible, reduce bureaucracy, andpromote e ciencies.</p><p>No, the taxpayers would bear the bu rden ofthe increased costs for police protection for n o</p><p>benefit. The increased meals tax would benefitthe state, not the city.</p><p>The Doble Center is the best location. It is a bigproperty, large enough for a senior center anda recreation center, which would be mutuallybeneficial to our seniors and youth. However,tra c to and from the center shou ld be routedto Route 1, not to Woodbury Avenue throughthe residential neighborhood.</p><p>The council has a simple choice. We can eitherfully sta departments or pay overtime. Theissue that makes fully sta ng so onerous isthe pension and health insurance costs, whichare controlled by the state, not the city or theunion. Perhaps its time to take a look at that.</p><p>In government, nonprofits and business, Ivealways worked to promote a culture of con-stant striving to increase quality and e ciency.I pay contractors a fair price and expect themto work with me to reduce errors, redundan-cies, and ine ciencies. My approach to col-lective bargaining would be the same. We needa fair and reasonable partnership with theunions, recognizing that that this is our city, andwere all in this together.</p><p>Recently, weve seen development and otherissues impact many neighborhoods in the city.The widespread experience is that public com-ment is largely ignored. Public input from allof Portsmouths citizens and neighborhoodsshould be highly valued by all city boards.Citizens bring the greatest focus and depth ofknowledge about current and future quality oflife issues in their neighborhoods. I will be a</p><p>fierce advocate for citizen and neighborhoodinput.</p><p>Sustainability: We should build on the ongo-ing eorts by adopting the 2012 InternationalEnergy Conservation Code for Region 6. Thisis a significant step that we can take to reduceenergy used in all new buildings in the nearand long term. I have personally been buildingto this code for the last two years in Durham.It can be done, and the benefits outweighthe costs. Also, the master plan needs to berewritten for 2015. As in 2005, PortsmouthListens would be an eective conduit for publicinvolvement.</p><p>Through social media and availability of itscouncil and board members.</p><p>Candidates ata glance</p><p>The 23 residents running for thePortsmouth City Council answereda series of questions provided bythe Portsmouth Herald for profilestories. As an additional help toreaders, their answers (somereduced to fit this space) will bedetailed in this format this week.</p><p>For their complete answers, visitwww.seacoastonline.com.</p></li></ul>