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Name: Joanna Kelley
Occupation: small business owner — Cup of Joe
Years living in Portsmouth: 6
Public service experience:
– Volunteer and advocate for Big Brothers Big Sisters of NH.
– Member, Young Philanthropist for Mentoring
Q1: What can the city do to increase its supply of affordable housing?
Allow Airbnbs, streamline the process to enable easier implementation of accessory dwelling units, reanalyze current zoning, and analyze/consider a cap on pricier condo developments.
Q2: Are there specific areas in the city budget where you think spending cuts can be made? Are there specific areas where you think spending should be increased?
Need to make sure we’re not forgetting about long-ranging plans that we asked the public for in-depth input on (Prescott Park Master Plan, Vaughan-Worth Bridge).
Q3: Do you support a citywide ban on single-use disposables such as plastic bags, plastic straws, and Styrofoam containers?
I fully support a ban on Styrofoam containers. Before enacting a ban like the current proposed ban of single use, only affecting city-owned property, we need to make sure that we are prepared from an operational and budget standpoint to make this transition. For example, if our school system is going to switch over to fully compostable products, that’s an investment we will have to make.
Q4: Regarding the McIntyre redevelopment project:
A) Do you support the Redgate/Kane plan?
Yes, I believe the sitting council made the most educated choice they could. Going forward with this project, it is very important that we make sure that the concerns of our residents are heard and compromises made to ensure that we are growing a downtown that is satisfactory but also economically growing.
B) Do you think the Council should step back and consider other plans, such as the one put forth by Bill Binnie?
No, the public input process leading into the decisions of this project included over 30 public meetings last year. Many continue to not realize the parameters that limit certain things that can be done due to regulations.
Q5: What can be done to clean up and prevent PFAS contamination and other chemical contaminants on the Seacoast?
I think the Portsmouth Water Department has done an excellent job addressing our water infrastructure and keeping a pulse on emerging contaminant issues. They routinely test our water (more than most local communities), have smartly negotiated agreements to improve our treatment system (such as with the U.S. Air Force to construct the new water treatment system in Pease), and have effectively communicated their activities and educated the public on a number of issues (winning the New England Water Works Association’s Public Communications Award last year).
Q6: Do you feel that development in Portsmouth — particularly of luxury condos, hotels, and other large-scale buildings — should be curtailed?
We should work on figuring out if a cap system would be beneficial to the city in regards to development.
Q7: What are your feelings on the idea of building a permanent covered stage in Prescott Park for festival events?
If PPAF can cover the cost of building and maintaining the covering, I do not see the harm in a covered stage. There are several things to consider, including not burdening taxpayers and the timeline and implementation of the Prescott Park Master Plan.
Q8: Should the city add more bike lanes and/or take other measures to improve bicycle safety and/or reduce motor-vehicle traffic downtown?
Downtown, the implementation of the Middle Street bike lanes was an important step that sees a lot of use. I think it’s important to expand on this question and focus on expanding interconnectivity of bicycle and pedestrian networks throughout Portsmouth, not just downtown. I’m excited to see both the North Mill Pond Trail & Greenway and the NH Seacoast Greenway plans get underway.
Q9: Are there any significant projects that should be undertaken outside of the downtown area and Islington Street corridor?
The last few years have seen many needed improvements for corridor projects that fall under the Capital Improvement Plan. I do not believe there are major projects needed that are not online in that plan.
Q10: A times this summer, there were road closures on Islington Street, Woodbury Avenue (by the traffic circle), Maplewood Avenue, and other roads all at once. Is there a way to reduce the heavy concentration of road work that creates detours and traffic congestion in the summer?
Our DPW works hard to get all street repairs and necessary improvements done in a timely manner while following our improvement plans. The unfortunate truth is, we live in New England and we must optimize certain seasons, which can sometimes lead to congestion.
Q11: What actions should be taken at the city level to address climate change?
Continue building upon the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment, continue investing in electric vehicles for city employees, continue investing in their Parks & Greenery program, revisit a curbside composting program, ensure a biking network throughout all of Portsmouth, expand on public education for recycling best practices (given the challenges of the market), as well as storm water management.
Q12: Name one of the biggest challenges and one of the biggest opportunities Portsmouth will face in the next 10 to 20 years.
Retaining and attracting young residents. Our community could very well find itself at a tipping point in the next few years. I believe it’s vital that we keep our city attainable.
BONUS: What are you gonna be for Halloween?
My husband and I are being Megan Markel and Prince Harry.