Manchester Master Plan

A Stronger Manchester Starts With Us The original category was published from August 31, 2016 1:14 PM to September 22, 2016 2:17 PM

Oct 21

[ARCHIVED] From the Town Administrator's Desk - October 21, 2023

The original item was published from October 21, 2023 7:54 AM to October 24, 2023 6:49 PM

October 21, 2023
Special Town Meeting November 13th
By Gregory T. Federspiel

A fall Special Town Meeting is slated for Monday, November 13th beginning at 6:30PM at the Memorial School gymnasium.  Debate and votes will be taken on 10 or so articles.  A few of the articles are not yet finalized but they will be by the end of next week at which time the official warrant will be posted.   Articles will likely cover the following topics.

Parking Bylaw Amendments:  Our current parking bylaw needs updating.  Some of the details, like where resident stickers are to be placed, are outdated given the changes that have been made in vehicles (for example, tinted side windows that make it too difficult to see a sticker.) The proposed amendments will provide greater flexibility and allow for the Select Board to make adjustments as necessary.

Authorization for Community Center Building Lease:  The Town is negotiating a long-term lease with Harbor Points Associates for the land on which the Community Center building resides.  Voter approval is needed for any Town interest in real estate.   Securing the lease will allow the Town to move forward in a new partnership with the private, non-profit Community Center, Inc. sharing the use of the building.  

Paramedic Response SUV for the Fire Department:  The Fire Department has a need for a nimble, non-transport paramedic response vehicle to respond to a simultaneous second ambulance call.  While the Department has the option of using the large pumper truck, Engine 1, for this purpose, taking the pumper out for a medical call leaves the town vulnerable if a fire call were also to come in. We have unused funds from the money voters appropriated for a new ladder truck.   Voters will be asked to re-allocate up to $62,000 of these unused funds for the new SUV.  

Extend Parking along Beach Street past Tappen for a few more spaces:  There is a need for a crosswalk just past the railroad tracks across Beach Street connecting 40 Beach Street and the Train Station to Reed Park.   Doing so will require the removal of a couple of parking spaces.  To not decrease the number of parking spaces, a few new ones can be added along Beach Street south of Tappen Street.  A few years ago, some 30 new parking spaces were added south of Tappen, but voters approved a new bylaw prohibiting these spaces.  This article seeks to amend this prohibition by allowing a handful of parking spaces in this area.  

Cybersecurity Enhancements:  Supplemental funds in the $30,000 range are being requested to make additional upgrades to our computer network to better guard against cyber threats.  We are part of a multi-town collaborative headed up by the Danvers IT Department and they are recommending some additional measures based on a recent incident in another community.     

School District Operational Audit:  While details are still being discussed, there is a desire to conduct an audit of the District’s operations to see if additional efficiencies and cost savings can be found.  This cost could be shared by Essex and the District.  Supplemental funds are needed to have Manchester contribute toward this effort.   A final figure is being developed – likely in the $50-$80,000 range

Zoning Amendment:  The Planning Board may advance an article to amend the use table in the zoning regulations to remove the provision that carriage buildings and other existing outbuildings can only be occupied by employees of the owner.  The public hearing on this is Monday, 10/23.

Finally, three citizen petition articles have been submitted with the requisite number of signatures:

  1. Zoning amendments to require a ballot vote:  If this article is approved, all zoning amendments would need to be approved both “from the floor” at a Town Meeting and also by ballot at a town election.  Currently, approval at Town Meeting is sufficient.
  2. Powder House Hill Parcels and Article 97 restrictions:  If this petition article is approved, the Town-owned land comprising Powder House Hill would be encumbered by the constraints imposed by Article 97 of the State Constitution (places additional hurdles to any changes in use of the land.
  3. Authorize acquisition of the Community Center Building and land:  Approval of this petition would authorize the Select Board to acquire by purchase, including through eminent domain, the Community Center and the land on which it resides assuming sufficient funds are also appropriated.     



Aug 11

[ARCHIVED] From the Town Administrator's Desk - August 10, 2023

The original item was published from August 11, 2023 9:52 AM to August 11, 2023 9:54 AM

August 10, 2023
Rotunda Project Next Steps
By Gregory T. Federspiel

Efforts to develop a path forward for the reconstruction of the support structures for the pier and Rotunda at Tuck’s Point continue.  Two public presentations have taken place regarding the options and a third forum is planned for September 14th.  The Select Board aims to make a decision as to which option to advance at their regular meeting on September 18.  

At the September 14th forum, slated for 7 PM here at Town Hall (and via Zoom), a series of visual simulations will be presented.  The robust modeling software allows for multiple perspectives and at varying stages of the tide cycle.  The three dimensional imagery should allow residents to fully comprehend what the different options would look like.

As a reminder, four options have been developed:  

Tuck's Point Rotunda Options

Rough Cost Estimate

1. Replace in existing footprint

$2.3 million

2. Replace with 38' extension 

$2.5 million

3. Relocate landward w/viewing deck

$1.7 million

4. Replace in existing footprint in 2 Phases

$5.8 million (both phases)


Most of the feedback to date has favored Option 1 – raising the existing pier and Rotunda in its current location.  From a permitting perspective, this is the easiest option.  So much so that Option 2, which contemplated extending the pier further out over the water, is no longer a serious contender.  The uncertainty and time delays in securing the necessary permits from the state and federal agencies discourage any further pursuit of Option 2.  

Option 3 has its advocates given the greater protection from storms it affords.  Placing the Rotunda on the knoll just to the north of the pier’s start would provide added protection from storm surges and destructive wave action.  A viewing deck at the present location of the Rotunda would be built.  However, no longer having the Rotunda over the water is too drastic a change in the eyes of many.

Option 4 was developed as an alternative to Option 1.  Instead of immediately raising the pier and Rotunda up about 5 feet higher than it is currently, Option 4 proposes to do raise the structures up by 3 feet in Phase 1 and then, some 25 years out, raise it up another 2 feet.  While this has the advantage of not having the pier and Rotunda up quite as high (an aesthetic plus), it means that the structures remain more vulnerable to the larger storms that could occur between now and when Phase 2 is completed.  It also is the most expensive option.  

The goal is to gain additional input from residents at the September 14th Public Forum to help inform the Select Board’s decision on which option to advance.  The Board will make this decision at their September 18th meeting.  Next the engineers will get to work on the final design and permitting of the chosen option.  This will take us through the Spring of 2024 at which time the Town can apply for grants that, with any luck, will pay for most of the costs. Depending on how successful we are with these grants, voters may be asked to approve funds as well.  Final permitting and bidding could take place over the summer with construction slated to begin in the late fall and through the early winter of 2025.  Under this (optimistic!) schedule, the new and improved Rotunda will be ready for the 2025 season and for decades to come.  Please share your thoughts on which of the options you prefer either at the September 14th forum or by sending along an email.

Jun 30

[ARCHIVED] From the Town Administrator's Desk - June 30, 2023

The original item was published from June 30, 2023 12:07 PM to June 30, 2023 12:08 PM

June 26, 2023
Important Studies Reporting Out
By Gregory T. Federspiel

It continues to be a busy time for various boards, committees, and Town Departments.  No summer lull for the work that needs to get done!  Three impactful reports will be ready for public distribution in the coming weeks and will require decisions to be made on the next steps.

The Water Resources Task Force has been hard at work for the past 18 months examining our water system and putting together a set of recommendations to help ensure the Town has a robust and high-quality water system in place for decades to come.  The Task Force has assembled an impressive amount of information concerning our water system and the challenges we will face going forward.  The gathered background information alone makes for a worthwhile effort but the group of citizen volunteers with assistance from staff also put forth 11 recommendations for action steps to take in the coming years to protect our drinking water.

The Task Force created six working groups to delve into a range of topics related to our water system.   Groups included usage and demand, supply levels and sources of drinking water, effects of climate change, water quality and contaminants, citizen awareness and engagement, and Town responsibilities, authority and accountability.  The findings of these six working groups can be found in the 71 page final report of the Task Force.

A list of 13 key findings and 11 specific recommendations can be found in the report’s Executive Summary.   The first recommendation that will be acted on is to re-set the water rates to encourage more conservation of drinking water.  The Select Board will officially vote on new rates at a regular meeting in July.   Lower end users will see a decrease in their water bills while high end users (especially those who irrigate large areas) will see a significant increase in their bills.

Other recommendations include accelerating the rate of old pipe replacement, installing new meters that provide accurate real-time usage data, increasing education and awareness of water conservation measures, expanding the area of protected lands within the Gravely Pond watershed, and updating our water overlay districts.  Addressing PFAS is also a priority, one which is well underway with testing and design work for options to filter out these contaminants which remain below the currently allowed maximum parts per trillion (though the thresholds may be lowered.)

Another study wrapping up is the Vulnerability Action Plan for the Village core area.  This study examined the threat rising seas and bigger storms are going to have on the areas in and around the marinas, the inner harbor, and Reed and Masconomo Parks.  This study identifies recommended short-, medium- and long-term action steps the Town will want to consider to protect properties and critical public infrastructure.  Some short-term measures include elevating generators and other utility service connections, installing “check valves” on drainage pipes to prevent sea water from traveling up these pipes, and waterproofing building openings to better withstand flooding.  Longer term, buildings may need to be elevated or relocated.  And whether we can work with the MBTA to raise the berm the tracks rest on with a flood gate at the draw bridge will play a large role in how well many of the properties can be protected.  Particularly challenging to protect are areas that were once tidelands – e.g.: Masco and Reed Parks, Tappan Street area.  Some of these areas might have to be repurposed to accommodate water over the long-term.

A third study looks at the options for restoring the Rotunda at Tuck’s Point.  Four basic options have been analyzed – rebuild in the existing footprint, rebuild and place the Rotunda about 35 feet further out toward the channel, relocate the Rotunda to the knoll just north of the pier with a viewing deck replacing the Rotunda, or rebuild in the existing footprint in two phases, raising the height in two stages.  The first three options all place the Rotunda about 5 feet higher than it is now to avoid most of the anticipated flooding. The last option would raise the structure 3 feet at first, then 2 more feet later.  Rough cost estimates for the options range from $1.7 million to $3.6 million.

All three studies set the stage for future community debate and decision making.  A combination of local Town funds with state and/or federal grants will be needed to implement the various options and recommendations.   Completed reports will be posted to the Town’s web page and will be the subject of future meetings.