For information on polling hours, voting locations, voter registration, and more, contact the city clerk’s office.
Name: Stephen Barndollar
Occupation: Retired/Former president of Seatrade International Portsmouth NH
Years living in Portsmouth: Since 1982 (37 years)
Public service experience: National Fisheries Institute board member 2004-2006; Friends Forever board member secretary 2014-2016; PMAC (Portsmouth Music & Arts Center); Portsmouth Building Committee 2014-2016
Q1: What can the city do to increase its supply of affordable housing?
Real estate in Portsmouth’s downtown has become attractive and expensive. This presents a situation that we should, on balance, be thankful for. The solution to Portsmouth’s lack of workforce housing lies outside our city’s downtown: in the neighborhoods now dubbed “gateway areas.” The transportation problem is also intimately tied to workforce housing. The solution to Portsmouth’s workforce housing shortage may not ultimately lie in Portsmouth. A lack of transportation and parking inhibits Portsmouth’s ability to draw in both workers and consumers from surrounding communities. Private developers will not pursue these projects when there are market-driven demands for private development.
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 operating budget shows the following FY 20 increases that should be cut:
- General government 4.83 percent proposed increase
- Property & liability insurance proposed increase of 4.92 percent
- IT equipment replacement 36.78 percent increase
Any spending for the departmental budgets over a threshold of 2.0 percent should be challenged by the City Council. As far as any spending increases are concerned, I would only fund increases that are mandated in the budget, as well as increases that have been negotiated in a signed contract. Portsmouth’s city budget adequately provides the services needed for the community, but the residential tax burden is driving residents out of the city and causing people to make painful decisions in postponing medical needs or dwelling upgrades in order to pay their taxes.
Q3: Do you support a citywide ban on single-use disposables such as plastic bags, plastic straws, and Styrofoam containers?
Yes, I support the recent regulations passed by the council to ban Styrofoam containers and eliminate the use of single-use plastic bags and plastic straws. Portsmouth should be a leader in New Hampshire for greenhouse gas reduction and the campaign to reduce recyclable waste. Composting and finding ways to use organic waste is a regional problem and we should look for regional solutions and partners.
Q4: Regarding the McIntyre redevelopment project:
A) Do you support the Redgate/Kane plan?
No. I have spoken at meetings about Redgate-Kane’s failure to address the main concerns of the hundreds of residents who participated in the public-input sessions, which were and are: lack of adequate parking for the residential and commercial tenants, that a full-service post office remain at that site, the desire for less density and more open green space, a fair revenue stream to the city. The 2.1-acre site and existing building is worth between $8-$10 million, which should provide an annual financial benefit to the City of $850,000-$1 million. If you subtract $500,000 of projected tax revenue to the city, then the annual land lease should be at least $300,000 per annum. Why is the city only projected to receive $100,000 per year from Redgate-Kane?
B) Do you think the Council should step back and consider other plans, such as the one put forth by Bill Binnie?
Yes, the City Council failed to take the suggested 60-day pause and seriously consider the Carlisle Corporation’s plan and offer to soften the density and provide more parking and green space. The developer, Bill Binnie, would have used his own money without leveraged financing. He also agreed to voluntarily increase the land rent to $150,000 annually, and the developer deposit offered by Binnie would have been doubled to a non-refundable amount of $800,000.
Q5: What can be done to clean up and prevent PFAS contamination and other chemical contaminants on the Seacoast?
I think that the PFAS and groundwater contamination threat has been taken seriously by the PDA and city officials, working with U.S. Air Force and scientific consultants. I believe the issue of water contamination and landfill heavy metals leaching into our water system is of the highest importance. As a result of much scrutiny and public debate, this issue is now being given the priority it needs to have.
Q6: Do you feel that development in Portsmouth — particularly of luxury condos, hotels, and other large-scale buildings — should be curtailed?
Yes, the commercial growth and construction of luxury condos in the city’s downtown needs to be addressed because it is changing the character of our city. There have certainly been great new developments that have been positive for the city. I am not against growth, but I am in favor of SMART growth where both the building and greenscape contribute to a sense of community and pedestrian access.
Q7: What are your feelings on the idea of building a permanent covered stage in Prescott Park for festival events?
I do not agree with building a permanent covered stage in Prescott Park for festival events. I have enjoyed the events that have taken place at Prescott Park when the weather permits. I am concerned that a permanent building will not fit in the middle of the beautiful Prescott Park that we are fortunate to have.
Q8: Should the city add more bike lanes and/or take other measures to improve bicycle safety and/or reduce motor-vehicle traffic downtown?
Bicycle safety and reducing the motor-vehicle traffic downtown is important. However, what we have seen and learned from the Middle Street bike lane is that this measure has done more harm than good. I have ridden my bike on the Middle Street bike lane and believe we should vote to remove the bollards and take the car parking lane back to where it was. The current model on Middle Street is dangerous for bikers, but even more so for vehicles. Perpendicular cross streets — Cass and Aldrich, for example — have limited visibility, and the turning lanes are confusing to drivers. Clearly, the approach on Middle Street to increase bicycle safety has, in this case, become more dangerous for both vehicle and bicycle drivers.
Q9: Are there any significant projects that should be undertaken outside of the downtown area and Islington Street corridor?
Too often, the residents of the city of Portsmouth who do not live within the downtown and Islington Street corridor have been forgotten. We should look to improve the streets, sidewalks, and landscape of areas outside of the downtown area.
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?
What would help is for the city to specify that more work be done at night when feasible.
Q11: What actions should be taken at the city level to address climate change?
We have only one electric vehicle in a fleet of over 40 vehicles. Going hybrid or fully electric for cars, vans, and light trucks would be wonderful. It is more likely that city administrative vehicles and possibly police vehicles could be electric. Public works is now installing solar panels in new campus fields for lighting and signage.
The use of new organic pesticides and weed control is a good start. More solar panels for our city buildings should be encouraged.
Q12: Name one of the biggest challenges and one of the biggest opportunities Portsmouth will face in the next 10 to 20 years.
It is essential that we manage growth in a smart way that allows for our community to grow and come together. We are fortunate to live in a safe, historic, and vibrant city that welcomes everyone from all walks of life. We should continue to encourage this trend while doing a better job bringing the community together. This will only occur when there is a better line of communication between city hall and all the residents of Portsmouth.
BONUS: What are you gonna be for Halloween?
My granddaughter Lili loves donkeys! So, for me… I will be a donkey!