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Name: Paul M. Mannle
Occupation: data specialist, Pacific Architects & Engineers LLC
Years living in Portsmouth: 29
Public service experience:
Citywide Neighborhood Committee
Portsmouth Listens Steering Committee
Portsmouth Listens Study Circles – 8X participant
PS21 Tactical Urbanism volunteer – 2X
Q1: What can the city do to increase its supply of affordable housing?
Incentivize homeowners to convert their single-family homes into ADUs by both streamlining the process and tax abatements.
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?
The budget is two-fold — spending AND revenue. You cannot stop the city from spending money, you can only make sure it is spent wisely.
I believe the spending side needs to be scrutinized, line by line, for any savings possible, especially on the General Government category (Council has line item authority, but bottom line authority on the three charter groups – Police, Fire & Schools). That type of analysis cannot be done now, by the Council nor the public, because the budget is released just days before the public hearing, even though there is a two-month window between the release and mandatory deadline for passage (June 30).
The revenue side is the key, the most important. Increased spending leads to increased property taxes because property taxes are the largest source of revenue by far. That needs to change NOW! I will advocate for Portsmouth to aggressively pursue their fair portion of the Rooms & Meals Tax thru any means necessary (legislation, courts, etc.). Portsmouth should be receiving at least 30 percent of all those tax dollars generated locally, to relieve the constant pressure of rising property taxes. That revenue stream would allow for the opportunity to keep any housing affordable.
Q3: Do you support a citywide ban on single-use disposables such as plastic bags, plastic straws, and Styrofoam containers?
If allowed by state law, yes.
Q4: Regarding the McIntyre redevelopment project:
A) Do you support the Redgate/Kane plan?
No, because, for myself, there is not enough public benefit for the residents of Portsmouth for the project to be labeled a “partnership.”
B) Do you think the Council shoud step back and consider other plans, such as the one put forth by Bill Binnie?
Seeing how there was no deadline for the GSA/NPS application, the Council could have stepped back and considered other options.
As a councilor, my hands would be tied to the current Council’s decision of signing a binding financial agreement with Redgate/Kane, so the questions above are moot. As a councilor, it would be my responsibility to try and improve the public benefit for the residents of Portsmouth of the adopted R/K plan unless something changes in the future.
Q5: What can be done to clean up and prevent PFAS contamination and other chemical contaminants on the Seacoast?
It would be ideal to get ALL the parties together (municipalities, commercial, PDA, USAF, EPA, NHDES, etc.) to formulate plans to solve the immediate issue — getting clean drinking water to homeowners and businesses. I believe that is doable.
While I would like to believe the same group of involved parties is interested in actually cleaning up years of contamination of the Seacoast, that remains to be seen.
Q6: Do you feel that development in Portsmouth — particularly of luxury condos, hotels, and other large-scale buildings — should be curtailed?
Developers will build what will make a profit, period. They will also go to great lengths to convince the public their project is “beneficial” to the “community.” That is the nature of their business. The venerable John Hines once asked the question, “How much can Portsmouth grow and still be Portsmouth?” That is the issue. Contrary to some, downtown IS a museum — every promotional video of Portsmouth reeks of our 400-year-old history, which is the draw to the outsider; that’s why they choose to discover Portsmouth. We, as a community, need to preserve that or run the risk of becoming just another town.
Q7: What are your feelings on the idea of building a permanent covered stage in Prescott Park for festival events?
This has already been decided by a unanimous vote of a previous City Council to adopt the Prescott Park Master Plan, after months of public meetings, hearings, and input. Unless there is a new PAC unhappy with the results of the extensive Master Plan process I am unaware of? Are they called “Revisit Prescott Park”?
Q8: Should the city add more bike lanes and/or take other measures to improve bicycle safety and/or reduce motor-vehicle traffic downtown?
The city had the opportunity to forward-think nine years ago to build a second public garage outside of downtown in the West End and to invest in public transportation on the Islington Street Corridor. Now there are two garages downtown, which only attract more vehicles. While bike lanes and bike safety are good, I’d rather see a more robust public transportation effort for ALL the residents, not just those that ride bikes.
Q9: Are there any significant projects that should be undertaken outside of the downtown area and Islington Street corridor?
Listen to the residents and the neighborhoods; they will tell the city what is needed (sidewalks, traffic calming, parking, etc.) The only significant project that I am aware of is the NHDOT project of widening Route 1 — Lafayette Road.
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?
I believe the city does its best at trying to minimize the impact of construction projects during the short construction season. But the city does not always have complete control, due to funding. It’s part of life in New England.
Q11: What actions should be taken at the city level to address climate change?
Locally, our eco-municipality could reduce its carbon footprint by going solar on all municipal building and implementing geothermal on municipal properties where appropriate. We have experts in both fields locally.
Q12: Name one of the biggest challenges and one of the biggest opportunities Portsmouth will face in the next 10 to 20 years.
THE BUDGET!!! I can’t stress this enough, especially the revenue side. Without aggressively pursuing reform of the Rooms & Meals Tax and how it gets distributed, Portsmouth will never be affordable, regardless of how many new units are built, and will drive out many current homeowners because of the ever increasing property tax burden.
BONUS: What are you gonna be for Halloween?
If I can get the right costume, Declan MacManus!