The Sound’s 2015 Portsmouth City Council Voter’s Guide: Josh Cyr

Portsmouth Voters Guide
Josh Cyr

Joshua Cyr
Occupation: Director, Alpha Loft
Years living in Portsmouth: 19
Prior public service experience: Member of Economic Development Commission

How often do you walk into downtown or use public transportation? What can the city do to encourage more pedestrian traffic and public transit use?
Before the Maplewood Bridge construction I walked to downtown most workdays. I walk occasionally into town now, and also use the shuttle when days/hours are convenient. The city can improve overall pedestrian/bicycle use by continuing to improve the sidewalks and paths throughout the city, especially in our outer neighborhoods, a point made clear through Portsmouth Listens. Recent efforts along Middle Street/Lafayette Road corridor are a great example.

How would you address growth and development throughout Portsmouth? 
There is no simple answer to the question. Each location poses its own challenges and concerns, both in terms of impact to the city as a whole and to the residents and businesses nearby. Development is a healthy thing and growth is normal for towns such as Portsmouth. The question is if we are properly able to influence the growth/development to the betterment of our city. Form based zoning seems to be a sensible path so far.

What can the city do to restore public confidence in the police department and the police commission?
This saga is still unfolding. Ultimately, this falls to the police commission, as the city council has very little it is able to do. It is important that residents hear from our commissioners on their positions and vote accordingly.

How can Portsmouth encourage the development of more affordable and workforce housing?
This is one of the top items from Portsmouth Listens. One way is by working with developers so that projects include it. More broadly, our city is very popular. Many people want to live here. This causes tremendous pressure on demand, but we have very little supply. We haven’t increased our housing in the city except very minimally in the most expensive area of the city. If we want to have affordable housing across a mix of incomes, we need more housing, which means adjusting zoning where it makes sense from both a city and neighborhood perspective. This is an important aspect of the city’s master plan.

What role should the council have in working with the Prescott Park Arts Festival to address residents’ complaints about noise?
The council should allow the committee to do its job working with the festival on a broad master plan. I believe it is crucial that any role the council plays is welcoming of all opinions and the process is transparent to the residents of Portsmouth.

How can Portsmouth respond and adapt to the impacts of climate change?
One step is to reduce our impact. The city has made strides here, and can continue to do more. More broadly, we need to understand the likely short-, medium-, and long-term impacts and plan accordingly.

What is one recent change for the better in the city, and one you hope to champion as a councilor?
The African Burying Ground is a great addition to our city. I hope to be a champion for ensuring Portsmouth keeps its vitality through every decision we make as a council.

What was the most recent cultural event you attended in Portsmouth? 
I recently attended “Avenue Q” at the Seacoast Rep.

What is the most important issue facing the city that no one is talking about yet?
This is a tough question. A lot of smart people are discussing many important issues in Portsmouth. The question, perhaps, is how many important issues will move beyond talk? The wastewater treatment plant may well be our biggest issue coming up. What to do with and how to deal with the McIntyre Building is also an important topic.