This editorial ran in the Union Leader this weekend which makes some good points.
Concord has “one of the healthiest downtowns in New Hampshire,” in the words of well-known Laconia economist Russ Thibeault. So of course, the city should spend more than $7 million (in mostly federal money, naturally) to drastically change it.
That’s the thinking behind a proposal to bring more business to downtown Concord by redesigning the streetscape there. Civic groups Concord 2020 and Main Street Concord are pitching a grand plan to widen sidewalks, plant more trees and reline Main Street, perhaps removing one or two of its four lanes.
The spark that ignited this effort? A federal grant, of course. Backers say the city has to act now before the grant expires and all that free money is gone. So the street that carries the people of the “Live free or die” state to their own State House may be remade in the image of a European thoroughfare because Washington dangled some money in front of city officials.
Indeed, one has to wonder on what basis are all these federal grants determined on. Concord, NH does have a lovely downtown and one can name a dozen other towns that could put that $7 million to much better use. Why didn’t they get the money?