Plenty of ideas surface for MillyardBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
July 27. 2016 11:39PM
MANCHESTER — Parks with fountains. An amphitheater for performances by local students. A gondola car to ferry people from the Merrimack River to Elm Street and downtown Manchester.
Those are just some of the many ideas for the Queen City’s Millyard area floated by attendees at last night’s Manchester Connects event at University of New Hampshire Manchester. Over two years ago, a group of about a dozen people began meeting to discuss their vision for the Millyard area. On Wednesday nearly 100 people attended the second public session held on that vision, offering their thoughts on a possible River Walk along the banks of the Merrimack and other potential improvements.
The Manchester Connects event was led by urban planner and MIT lecturer Susan Silberberg of the firm CivicMoxie, hired by the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission to develop a multi-modal transportation and land-use plan for the city’s downtown area, the Millyard and riverfront.
Silberberg said the goal is to “create a vibrant, connected core to the city that celebrates its history while establishing the area as a key place to live, work and play.”
Part 1 of the project, expected to be completed in late August, involves compiling data and ideas for the Millyard area. Funding is provided through the SNHPC’s Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) agreement with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.
On Wednesday, meeting attendees were given the opportunity to discuss a pilot project to improve Gateway Park. Located at the corner of Granite and Commercial streets, at the entrance to the Millyard from Exit 5 off Interstate 293, this small park is in a key location but underutilized, according to Lee Dwyer, a project manager at CivicMoxie.
“There are projects that could be done pretty quickly,” said Dwyer. “Gateway Park could be one of them.”
Workshop attendees broke out into small groups for 15 minutes to brainstorm thoughts on what they would like to see at Gateway park. Ideas generated included an amphitheatre for local schools to use, a fountain, and a covered, elevated walkway crossing Granite Street.
Another idea put forth centered around an “iconic” sign facing Interstate 293, with large, oversize letters spelling out ‘MHT’ for commuters to see.
“The plan is all about connectivity, seeking ways to help people move through and to the area on foot, by bike, car, bus and train,” said Silberberg. “We’ll also be looking at parking and how to connect the events, programs, and vibrant activities around the city to this core area.”
CivicMoxie staff are expected to take the ideas generated at the public sessions and put together proposals for the Millyard area.
“We see our role as identifying who can do what and getting you started,” said Silberberg.
No dates were discussed for future public workshop sessions.