Neighbors express concerns over proposed Mark Stebbins Community Center

Marc Degrossiliers. Photo/Andre Sylvia

MANCHESTER, NH – Local leaders and community members gathered at Parkside Middle School Monday night to get neighborhood feedback on a proposed community center that organizers hope to build a few hundred feet south. However, these comments largely consisted of multiple concerns.

Mark Stebbins Community Centernamed after the late entrepreneur and Manchester native Mark Stebbins, is a joint proposal of the Manchester Boys and Girls Club and Amoskeag Health along with other contributing nonprofits and $17 million in proposed funding raised by these groups.

These groups hope the new facility, located on a four-acre site abutting the southern boundary of Parkside, will provide a gathering place for local youth as well as better access to health, technology and food security services for young people. West Side residents.

Although the design of the building has not yet been done, the organizers of the proposed facility hoping to get feedback on this design at meetings like this, they hope to integrate the site of the new building with adjacent schools and also provide on-site parking and integrate with existing community gardens on site.

Barry Bresinger. Photo/Andre Sylvia

Perhaps the most important requirement, according to local architect and former Manchester Proud chairman Barry Brensinger, is that the building be integrated with the surrounding neighborhood.

“The only way (the community center) can be successful is if it’s embraced by the neighborhood,” Bresinger said. “(The facility’s developers) want to hear from you, they want you to be engaged, and the end result will be a building you can be proud of.”

Residents of the area have expressed concerns about the impact of traffic on the area, whether services could be provided more efficiently by renovating empty areas of Manchester West High School, whether the size of the building would be incompatible with neighboring buildings and whether it would be appropriate for homeless adults seeking health services to mingle with children.

There were also concerns about the appearance of inevitability of building the facility.

“I think we should stop and sit at the ‘if’ question, not the ‘when’ question,” said neighborhood resident Carla Gericke.

Mark Degrossiliers, directly linked to the proposed site, shared Gericke’s concerns.

“It feels a bit like the train has left the station and we’re being asked to jump on it as it comes down the tracks,” he said.

Residents also raised concerns about the impact on the existing community garden, the disruption caused by the construction of the building and the need for health services when the Catholic Medical Center is only a few blocks away. .

Not all feedback was negative. Danielle Macklin, another neighborhood resident, expressed concerns about increased traffic and other issues. But she also said community centers saved her life growing up in New York City and that she would volunteer at the proposed community center if it became a reality, despite her concerns.

“There is a real need here (for a community centre), she said. “But our privacy will be affected, especially with regard to many of my elderly neighbours.”

Danielle Maclin. Photo/Andre Sylvia

In June, the College of Mayor and Alderman of Land and Buildings recommended the project organizers’ request to purchase the land from the City, specifically the Parks and Recreation Department. However, concerns were also expressed there, such as Ward 5 Anthony Sapienza declaring his reluctance at this meeting over the city’s handing over ownership of the park to a non-governmental organization.

The subject will be presented to the full college of mayors and aldermen on July 19.

Jill E. Washington