December 28, 2006

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Concord Publisher's Note: 2007 resolutions
By†Dan Szczesny

Itís hard to believe that itís been more than a year since the Concord Hippo first hit Main Street in the capital city.

Itís been an education for me, as the city has changed so much in such a short period of time. Concord is on the brink of a break-out year, but it wonít happen without hard work. Here are a few New Yearís resolution city leaders should consider:

ē The city should maintain its resolve in the battle against unwanted, unnecessary and unsightly electronic signs. It wonít be easy. Concord is facing several lawsuits and pressure from trade organizations and a major sign manufacture challenging the constitutionality of city laws banning electronic messaging signs. City Manager Tom Aspell insists that a community has a right to set its standards for what it wants to be, and heís right.

ē Speaking of Tom Aspell, his department needs to resolve in 2007 to begin looking for ways to better provide incentives for new businesses looking to move downtown, as well as for property owners looking to fill their spaces. Downtown in particular would benefit from having some of its second and third floors filled. Itís tough now because of restrictive zoning and safety ordinances that donít take a buildingís age or existing floor plan into account. The city needs to work with property owners and building officials to make Concord a more desirable investment.

ē Main Street Concord needs to look outside city boundaries for shoppers and visitors and work on making Concord a destination location. Believe it or not, people will come from far away and exotic lands, like Manchester. They just need a reason, like the soon-to-be-open Red River Theatre. I canít think of a bigger advantage thatís ever been handed to Main Street Concord. Letís hope they use it.

ē City leaders need to look for ways to bring young people to Concord. Part of that is providing mixed use housing and development and not falling into the McMansion trap. But part of that equation is also to give young people things to do. The Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce is on the right track with their Young Professionals series. In 2007, they should resolve to expand that series to include a more diverse demographic. After all, seniors, yuppies and even families own and operate businesses as well.