This episode is pretty great! I was being trailed by NBC Boston, who had their cameras set up in my studio too, and they asked if I could do a quick wrap up of recent developments in the Free State, and this is what they got. They were pretty impressed that I was able to do this entire episode on the fly. I explained it’s my super-power… if you’re never as prepared as you should be, you learn to be good on your feet! Enjoy!
Last night, there was a second meeting about the Stebbins Center being proposed on the site of our community garden & green space here in West Manchester.
I gave an impassioned speech (video to come) but here’s coverage by Manchester Ink Link so long.
I would like to point out something, my *feelings* aren’t really in question, I am rightfully responding to ACTIONS taken. i.e. We don’t FEEL overlooked, we WERE OVERLOOKED.
We all know that when someone apologizes by saying, “I’m sorry you feel x,” that’s not really an apology. Saying, “I’m sorry I did x,” is.
Republican candidate for State House in Ward 10, Tammy Simmons did a great job crystallizing the real issue, which is the City of Manchester and Mayor Joyce Craig failed us all by simply unethically shoving this through.
This land was never “surplus” to start with, and that should have been communicated to the parties involved. Ward 11’s alderman is entirely missing from all of this. Doesn’t show up, doesn’t respond, doesn’t seem to care. That’s likely why they thought they could get away with this… NO ONE was advocating for the people living in the neighborhood to be impacted. Now, we are.
From Ink Link:
“Carla Gericke, a local resident, felt that if the project went forward as it is now, it should not be a ‘community’ center due to the group’s interactions with the community up to this point. ‘No one wants to go to war here, right? But it’s important for people to understand where our frustration is coming from and we do not trust you,’ Gericke said to the organizers. ‘You cannot build a community center when you literally ignore the community that lives here.'”Ink Link
Reminder! There is a meeting scheduled tonight 5-7PM at Parkside Middle to express your concerns.
There was an article in today’s Union Leader about it. See below.
According to the article, you will be able to speak for 3 minutes or write your concerns on cards provided and they will be read out.
For me, the types of questions I have, are:
Why was the standard City procedure of requesting an RFP not followed? Under what basis of law was this exception made to sell public parkland to a private entity?
The letters submitted in support of selling the public land were solely submitted by state actors or people involved in the project (conflict of interest?) and simply state the park is “surplus” and “not in use” without any substantiating evidence. We all know the opposite is true and the park is, in fact, a robust community garden. How can you use these letters in support of your actions when all of us can see with our very own eyes it is a lie?
What other sites were considered? Where, in relation to these sites, do the sitting aldermen and people involved with the project live?
How many children on the West Side currently attend the Boys & Girls Club on the East Side? How many neighbors and gardeners will be affected by changing this park into a giant building?
What is the distance between the proposed site and the current Boys & Girls Club? How long does it take to drive or walk there?
Is it true that one of the reasons the destruction of the park is being proposed is because there is a bus driver shortage?
Do the nonprofits being proposed for this site have any data on how much crime increases and property prices drop when they open up in a neighborhood? If not, why not? This seems important to assessing all aspects of impact to an area, not simply measuring the criteria you want and ignoring the data you don’t want to consider.
Please provide substantiating data for claims of “extreme poverty” on the West Side.
Will this property be tax-free? If so, the costs will eventually be downshifted to the neighbors living there. So you are asking neighbors to lose green space in return for higher crime and higher property taxes, is this correct?
Can you explain all the funding sources for this project? Initially, it was claimed that all the funding was private. Since then, it has been exposed that there is both private and public funds being used, including federal grants. Can you shed light on this public/private funding. Can you shed light on the ARP grants (and where we can get copies). Can you breakdown where the “$17 million” is coming from?
Who was the “generous donor” for the under-market, unaudited sales price of $600,000 for the “property sale”?
According to its website, Amoskeag Health provides transgender affirmation services and chemical abortions. What will parental rights be like at this clinic next to a school that is being included in something called “wrap around services”? What is “wrap around services” and what grants relate to this?
What does “consent of the governed” mean to you?
I understand these questions make me seem like a curmudgeon, but they are important in order for us all to make an informed decision, taking into account ALL NECESSARY DATA, not just the cherry-picked data from one side of the equation.
In the end, the City has NOT acted ethically, and while I don’t want to bad mouth the private interests promoting this, they are now willfully associating with what can only be described as a “shady deal.”
The Stebbins family now has a choice to act with integrity and return to the drawing board. They can choose to follow standard procedures like informing the people who live in the neighborhood and the gardeners who use the community garden beforehand, and follow a standard RFP procedure, or they can choose to side with the City and railroad the community that lives here, and then let the chips fall where they may.