"This project is a major step toward revitalizing our downtown for business, retail and residences," said Main Street Portsmouth President Craig DeAtley. "We're pleased that a coherent plan for betterment has been developed, and urge all citizens to learn about this project and vote for its adoption."
First, a little background.
The project envisioned by the City Council calls for renovation of the Marting's building, called the City Center, for city officers and potential retail businesses, and building a new Justice Center on the former Adelphia Building site on Washington Street.
The council has voted to put the issue on the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election for voters to decide.
The cost of both projects has been capped at $12 million to taxpayers, after a return of $1.4 million from the Richard D. Marting Foundation.
Grants may also be sought to help finance the project.
Main Street Portsmouth itself is an alliance of historic preservation interests, local business and community members.
"It's a group of organized volunteers implementing strategies of historic preservation and economic growth in the downtown and historic Boneyfiddle areas of Portsmouth," DeAtley said. "We see the City Center/Justice Center project as a major first step in this direction."
This is not about the endorsement nor about the merits of the proposal. It is about the process and Main Street has set a standard to follow in making an weighed and measured decision.
For example, DeAtley said the board didn't officially endorse the initiative right away because it wanted to investigate and make certain that everything was good.
"We wanted some questions answered. We got the answers and then decided to support it," he said.
He said the board stands convinced that parking will not present a problem from locating government offices in the center of downtown.
"That was one of the questions we wanted answered. There is not a lack of parking. We just need better management in utilizing the space available," DeAtley said.
Study the issues, ask questions, ignore rhetoric and get answers. The downtown revitalization issue is too important to do any less.