Ted Siefer's City Hall: Ambulances, parking, street closure make for long session
The main event on Tuesday, of course, was the ambulance contract. It was high drama, featuring feuding high-powered executives, rigorous debate and an uncertain outcome until the final vote.
The adversaries were the city's current emergency ambulance provider, American Medical Response, and American Ambulance of New England - and the prize was the five-year contract to be the city's designated responder to 9-1-1 calls.
"I think the message out of this clearly is when it comes to doing an RFP in Manchester, if you don't disclose important facts and conceal things that would hurt you, you won't be held accountable," he said.
The aldermen had more immediate legal matters to tend to on Tuesday: a request to spend nearly $149,000 for expert testimony in a lawsuit filed by National Grid challenging the city's assessment of road degradation fees. The case has been going on since 2011, and Deputy City Solicitor Tom Arnold told the aldermen that the expert was crucial in attesting to the long-term damage caused when utilities dig up the streets.
Several aldermen felt $149,000 was pretty steep, but a proposal to allocate only $50,000 was rejected. The aldermen ended up voting, 7-6, to support Arnold's recommendation to allocate the full amount. That expert witness better know his stuff.
Remember that parking study a couple of months ago by the Florida consulting company that cost $15,000, to assess demand for parking around the Bedford surface lot in the Millyard? And then, remember how the aldermen agreed to spend an additional $20,000 for the next phase of the study, to do geo-technical testing in order to determine the fitness of the site for a large building?
As you may have heard, the mayor and school district officials are eyeing the Stark House on North River Road as the site for a possible alternative education center that would cater to young dropouts. Naturally, residents in the area might have some questions, so Alderman Craig has organized a neighborhood meeting for Tuesday at 6 p.m. The meeting will take place, appropriately enough, at the Stark House, 1234 N. River Road.
It's that time of year. The city's elected officials must decide whether they will seek reelection, and political newcomers - or old-timers, as the case may very well be - must declare their candidacies for the 2013 elections. The filing period starts on Monday and runs for two weeks, until July 19.
Ted Siefer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @tbsreporter.
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