October 08. 2013 5:12PM

City improvements: Manchester should turn proactive

Manchester finally has a plan for financing the paving of the Rockingham Rail Trail, the bike trail made from an old railroad line through the East Side (behind the East Side Shopping Plaza). The plan is to apply for a $25,000 state grant, cross fingers, and wait.

We are glad aldermen have approved the grant application, but a lot of residents (particularly cyclists) probably share our frustration that the city has taken such a passive approach to completing this project, which has languished unfinished for years.

Such passivity is nothing new for Manchester infrastructure projects. The wonderful footbridge across the Merrimack River by the Fisher Cats baseball stadium never would have been completed had Helen Closson not organized the fund-raising campaign. The city could use another Helen Closson to guide the rail trail and other big projects for which the city lacks taxpayer funds.

The city has turned to private citizens to beautify parks and streets. It should find energetic volunteers to coordinate fund-raising for the rail trail, bike paths (for which the city is seeking a $15,000 grant) and sidewalks.

Manchester never has dedicated a great deal of taxpayer resources to public infrastructure projects. To find the resources, it should bring in citizens who have the skills and the passion to undertake private fund-raising campaigns for projects that would improve the quality of life but that have not been thought of as essential.