November 9, 2006

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Concord Publisher's Note: Letís get to work
By†Dan Szczesny

Listen.

Can you hear yourself think?

Thatís probably because the din of Tuesdayís elections have, subsided by now. While there is still, no doubt, some counting going on and maybe even a lawsuit or two, for the most part the signs have come down, the crowds on the street corners have melted away, the endless TV and radio ads have dried up and we are back to normal. Whatever normal is around here.

In the end, it matters little whether Concord is now awash in Democrats, as pretty much every pundit and newspaper has predicted. Really, the hubbub surrounding the ďDemocrat revolutionĒ or even the war on Iraq is in many ways background noise.

A politician is a politician and the needs of this city and this state remain the same regardless of whether there is a D or R, or even an I, after your name.

So shake off the election cobwebs. Itís time to get back to the basics of everyday government:

In this paper, Concord police chief Jerry Madden reassured citizens that Concord is no Manchester and part of the underlying problem facing the Queen City is a growing amount of drug activity in that area. The comments came in the wake of the shooting of a Manchester cop, which has led to stepped-up enforcement in Manchester. Madden is a good man, and his department is run well and does good work. But this attitude is worrisome. Drugs have no borders and Concord is only 15 minutes away from Manchester. City officials must maintain a constant level of vigilance, in terms of drug prevention programs and properly funding the cityís police department.

Itís easy to stay in business during the holidays. Downtown merchants are gearing up for Black Friday and Midnight Merriment and a flood of shoppers who will, hopefully, descend on Main Street in the next two months. Itís what happens on January 1 thatís the real challenge. City officials can help by working to fill those empty spaces on the second and third floors. Private/public redevelopment has already made an impact in some parts of the city, and if some of those new businesses are to survive the winter, shoppers are going to have to walk through their doors in the middle of January. So, fill those buildings with rental units and condos and put the shoppers right above the stores. The city can help developers with waivers and incentives.

Officials need to plan for a youthful, forward-looking city. The disposable-income, young-family set is here. The Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce is trying to make that demographic feel welcome by creating a young professionals organization. Itís a good step. Now, city officials need to give those folks a reason to stay. Nightlife, culture, arts and family-friendly destinations should be at the top of the list.

Creative development is crucial. There are plans on the books to move the highway away from the river, for example, and renew the waterfront. Letís get on it.