Portsmouth’s municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Below, City Council candidate Andrew Bagley responds to PortsmouthNH.com’s candidate questionnaire.
Occupation: Sales Engineer in the Precision Optics Industry
Civic experience: Portsmouth Design Alliance Professionals (outdoor dining group created by Bob White). Secretary, Board of Directors PopUp NH which received 501(c)3 status from the IRS this month retroactive to July 20, 2020. Actively engaged in promoting Portsmouth
Years living in Portsmouth: 10
1) Do you think the city should impose any new measures or mandates related to the COVID-19 pandemic at this time?
I do not, the city council should support the health department and school board with their decisions.
2) Do you think the Prescott Park Master Plan should be updated in any way? Specifically, do you think the stage should be temporary or permanent? Covered or uncovered?
Ideally a permanent covered stage should be part of the update. The plan is well developed but needs to be advertised better to the rest of the city, particularly the change to the formal gardens.
3) How do you feel about the current pace of development in Portsmouth?
Development is red hot and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s a good problem that so many people would love to live here, certainly better than the alternative. We should understand that there is no stopping development but we can have a 10 year plan and zoning that will help steer it in the best way possible. For larger projects 20% workforce housing should be a requirement.
4) What, if anything, do you think should be done to increase access to affordable housing?
In 2017 the state of New Hampshire made it easier for people to build ADUs, accessory dwelling units, commonly referred to as Mother-In-Law apartments. As a Dillon’s rule state we cannot act until Concord gives us the tools, and in this case they have given us a powerful tool. With some modifications to our zoning we could possibly hit 1% of homes in the city having an ADU (~120 homes). Advertising this possibility and streamlining the process are things we can do today. ADUs typically rent at below market rates because they are often rented to friends or family. In addition the owner must live in the main home of the ADU, this is really an ideal situation for urban infill. Our planning department should make this a simple non-intimidating process in order to make it go mainstream.
5) What changes, if any, should be made to the city’s bike lanes?
Certainly they should comply with state regulations so we don’t need to pay back the quarter million dollars. John Tabor has an excellent idea to use a task force to turn Middle Street into a boulevard with functional and aesthetically pleasing bike lanes during the next major repaving which is due to happen soon.
6) Regarding the McIntyre building, what do you feel is the best path forward to avoid litigation and get the project done?
New people with fresh ideas and a willingness to work towards a fiscally responsible solution. The city is already involved in too many costly lawsuits, we need to move forward carefully with our development partner to build something the city citizens want and we can not make that determination until the cost and taxpayer burden is better understood.
7) What additional measures do you think the city should take to slow climate change and prepare for its impacts?
The city has an excellent policy plan to get to be a net zero community. We need to follow the policies already adopted, especially with new construction. Our representative to the Port Authority of NH should be someone who supports offshore wind energy generation, currently that is not the case.
8) Do you support the idea of seasonal road closures and/or barriers to accommodate outdoor dining at restaurants — even after the pandemic has (hopefully) subsided?
Absolutely. The design alliance provided a fifty page pdf with 3D renderings of how outdoor dining could be accomplished to the task force at their first meeting. It has only gotten better from there. The city should encourage and write regulations and a fee structure that supports outdoor dining such as we have at the Kaffee Vonsolln/ Press Room and Massimo’s corner. We should maintain the 1 million dollar insurance requirement and not go back to 3 million. Every city in town has the 1 million dollar requirement, no need for Portsmouth to require more. There is a statistic that every $1 spent in Portsmouth changes hands 12 more times before it leaves the city. By reducing the insurance requirement we put more money in the local economy, I estimate between $250,000-$300,000 in saved insurance costs annually. With a factor of twelve we are talking about pumping millions into the local economy with really no downside.
9) What do you think the council can do to cultivate an environment of respect and collaboration and minimize hostility in local government?
By making data driven decisions, setting policy and acting as a board of directors and not management. We have a City Manager form of government. It is the elected council’s responsibility to approve the budget and direction, not interfere with day to day activities of professionals. We are currently in three major lawsuits, two of which were initiated in the last term, these lawsuits could cost the taxpayer in excess of 10 million dollars. Legal advice should be listened to and followed.
10) Aside from the issues already raised in this questionnaire, please outline ONE other priority you would address as a city councilor over the next two years.
Education, our kids lost a year and a half of some of the most important development years in their lives. We need to be asking the school board what resources do you need to get our kids back on track, not where we can make cuts.
BONUS: What are you going to be for Halloween?
Doogie Howser MD, zombie
To see other candidates’ responses, click here.