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Name: Paige Trace
Occupation: fine arts consultant/dealer
Years living in Portsmouth: 12
Public service experience: FOSE (Friends of the South End) board member; national council member for Strawbery Banke Museum; first vice president for National Society of the Colonial Dames of American in the state of New Hampshire; gubernatorial appointment to a State Museum Board in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Q1: What can the city do to increase its supply of affordable housing?
The best idea for the city of Portsmouth to increase the supply of affordable housing would be communication with surrounding towns to work together to build affordable housing for the Seacoast where land is more available than Portsmouth. The transportation infrastructure would need to be upgraded to support this.
The only viable way to increase the supply of affordable housing within the boundaries of Portsmouth would be to require developers requesting approval before Portsmouth’s Land Use Boards for projects involving housing to provide a certain percentage of affordable housing. The percentage of affordable housing to be determined by the size of the project.
The idea of building housing of any kind out at Pease is completely unfeasible unfortunately due to the original contract/deed made with the U.S. Department of Defense in 1993. That document states specifically that there may not be any residential housing at Pease. Most likely this is due to the general overall contamination left behind by the Air Force. Six major landfills and 22 dumping sites along with other areas.
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?
Spending cuts could be made anywhere it doesn’t involve health, human welfare, education, and important city infrastructure such as Fire and Police. Safety (Fire Departments and Police Departments) everyday has more and more stress placed upon it due to the massive amount of growth in Portsmouth. To not adequately supply Fire and Police is wrong. Spending in this area with the tall buildings of downtown Portsmouth and the Lonza buildings out at Pease is necessary. It could be paid for by fees levied at developers and by requiring Lonza to pick up and pay for some of the strain they’ve placed on our Portsmouth infrastructure.
Q3: Do you support a citywide ban on single-use disposables such as plastic bags, plastic straws, and Styrofoam containers?
We as a city do not have the capability to institute a citywide ban until the state of New Hampshire passes supporting legislation. I respect and understand the position of some current city councilors feeling the need to bring this up, but I also respect the rights of all those opposed right now. We have to protect our environment and our marine life. But the hours spent on this when it can’t be legally upheld is expensive and putting the cart before the horse, however important it may be to all of us.
Q4: Regarding the McIntyre redevelopment project:
A) Do you support the Redgate/Kane plan?
B) Do you think the Council should step back and consider other plans, such as the one put forth by Bill Binnie?
YES. I further believe that a new council could do it acting in good faith. There are clauses in the application packet (specifically developer agreement & ground lease) submitted to the NPS (National Park Service) that would make this possible.
Q5: What can be done to clean up and prevent PFAS contamination and other chemical contaminants on the Seacoast?
PFAS did not just come from the fire retardant foam used at the North End of Pease. They’ve come also from landfills located at Coakley, Pease, and likely Jones Avenue. There are federal cleanup proposals for each of the landfills out at Pease that average about 295 pages apiece. They suggest different solutions for the contamination cleanup based on financial expenditure. We need to take our pollution crisis seriously because the chemicals migrate underground. We face the possibility of contamination at the Bellamy Reservoir (Portsmouth’s main source of drinking water) in Madbury. The migrating chemicals from Dover’s superfund site, Dover Municipal Landfill located on Tolend Road (referred to as Tolend Landfill) are coming toward the Bellamy Reservoir. We need to get on top of this before the chemicals get too close. The older combined sewer pipes in Portsmouth need to be separated. And a solution needs to be found for the millions of gallons of raw sewage combined with storm water that regularly dumps into South Pond during wet weather events.
Q6: Do you feel that development in Portsmouth — particularly of luxury condos, hotels, and other large-scale buildings — should be curtailed?
I feel we’ve had enough of the big, boring, uninteresting, and expensive buildings housing luxury condos and hotel rooms only of benefit to those using them and those making a profit from that use. I understand that developers own their land and they have a right to do what they can with it. But they do build what the city of Portsmouth allows them to do. Portsmouth is busily trying to kill her own “Goose.” How much more build can we take before the golden eggs are gone?
Q7: What are your feelings on the idea of building a permanent covered stage in Prescott Park for festival events?
The Prescott Sisters’ Trust was very specific about what can and can’t be done. The Prescott Park Arts Festival is a private nonprofit leasing the grounds from the residents of the city of Portsmouth. We are lucky to have the benefit of their performances all summer. But putting in a permanent stage would only solve one half of the solution if it could be done. What about the spectators sitting out on the wet sloppy grass in the pouring rain? It would be, “Arty had a party and nobody came.”
Q8: Should the city add more bike lanes and/or take other measures to improve bicycle safety and/or reduce motor-vehicle traffic downtown?
Not as the lanes are designed now with bollards, interior parking spaces, and the complicated craziness of the paint design. They are confusing and dangerous for both motor vehicles and bicyclists. They also happen to be Ugly. Look at the bike lanes on the Maine side of the Old Bridge. KISS (Keep it Simple Somehow). We need to find a less dangerous solution for all without so many blind intersections. Portsmouth was not designed to be pedestrian only. We have an aging population who helped to make Portsmouth the city it is today. Now we take away the ability for a large portion of our residents to travel, shop, and dine downtown?
I think not.
Q9: Are there any significant projects that should be undertaken outside of the downtown area and Islington Street corridor?
Replacing the two pipes under Little Bay carrying most of Portsmouth’s drinking water from the Bellamy Reservoir in Madbury to the city of Portsmouth. Both pipes are past their working life and in old substandard condition. They need replacing as soon as possible. They are on the CIP. Their replacement should be pushed forward. Should they crack or burst, Portsmouth has a major issue on their hands.
Sound barriers for Pannaway Manor still don’t exist. Collaboration with the NH Department of Transportation to get this project actually up and running should be a top priority. This has been affecting an entire neighborhood’s quality of life for far too long.
Clarification of the finances of the Sagamore Sewer Project so it can move forward. The intent of Supreme Court Judge Paul Barbadoro’s Consent Decree Second Modification was to require the city of Portsmouth (defendant) to agree to punishment (mitigation) and pay for it for not being able to complete the requirements of the Consent Decree First Modification in an agreed-upon time frame. The Sagamore Creek Sewer Project — that of running sewer lines and having residents hook up in the Sagamore Creek Neighborhood — was an intended cost to be born by the defendant, city of Portsmouth. It does not seem that Judge Paul Barbadoro saw 87 neighbors, give or take, fully bearing the financial burden on behalf of the city.
Q10: At 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?
Maybe we should be looking at the effects a development will have on our streets and traffic patterns before we approve the number of units, etc. There should be honest communication between Portsmouth’s affected neighborhoods, the planning department and Department of Public Works. Traffic congestion is actually likely to get worse before it gets better because of all of the approved development projects over in the West End of Portsmouth. Portsmouth’s streets and intersections were never designed to be able to handle the number of vehicles that will eventually be calling Portsmouth home.
Q11: What actions should be taken at the city level to address climate change?
There should be a city committee charged with addressing just climate change. Plans to move/raise infrastructure such as the Mechanic Street pumping station and any other pumping stations or combined sewer outflows should be created well in advance of the needed move. All city of Portsmouth drinking water wells and their relation to sea level should be studied. Areas already prone to flooding should be addressed to consider a system of seawalls and dikes. We are built on a tidal river. To protect our riverside historic district buildings and infrastructure, we must take climate change seriously.
Q12: Name one of the biggest challenges and one of the biggest opportunities Portsmouth will face in the next 10 to 20 years.
The biggest challenge will be an adequate sustainable supply of potable drinking water.
The biggest opportunity would be for Portsmouth to take on the challenge of being an environmental champion of both the land and the sea in order to leave a more sustainable city to future generations.
BONUS: What are you gonna be for Halloween?
A Witch — my broomstick at the ready…