Arnold's dreams: 'Wouldn't it be nice?' isn't a plan
"Wouldn't it be nice?" seems to be the political theme song of young Patrick Arnold, who would like to be Manchester's next mayor.
Taking a moment last week from his bold stand against crime and in favor of more police (with no credible plan to pay for them), Arnold dreamed big and said Manchester should have a "riverwalk" like San Antonio, Texas, has.
Mayor Ted Gatsas politely referred Arnold to a decade-old study that looked at that precise issue. The projected cost, back then, was $21 million.
Since then, he noted, environmental questions may have made the project even more cost-prohibitive due to the need to put pilings into the Merrimack River in order to support such a walkway.
The allure of the San Antonio River Walk, moreover, has much to do with climate and the narrowness of its river. Several footbridges span that waterway, allowing shops and restaurants along both sides.
The allure of the mighty Merrimack along about January or February, with a slight breeze, might not be enough to entice tourists or locals to stop by, even if for a covered walkway.
Arnold neglected to detail the payment plan for such a project, which seems standard for his campaign. He also called for more funding for public education, saying more teachers should be hired.
Mayor Gatsas' reply to all of this was simple and direct: "It's about how do you pay for it? The questions are easy, but the answers are hard."
Arnold also turned snarky, saying past mayors had left the city with lasting legacies such as the Verizon Wireless Arena while Gatsas' "crowning economic development achievement" has been a "grocery store."
He is wrong on both counts.
The arena was backed by more than one mayor, but it was built because of the work of a dedicated group of volunteers and the specific endorsement of the voters in a public referendum.
As for Mayor Gatsas' economic achievements to date, we would say his ability to maintain city services and finances and the city tax cap during an ongoing, unprecedented national economic recession and the resulting reduced state funding should rank pretty high.