Chris catches up with Rory Makem of NH based traditional irish band Makem and Spain.
Chris recaps a incredible weekend in Cooperstown. Interviews include Wade Boggs, Johnny Bench, Mike Schmidt, Juan Marichal and more!
It was Chris’ son Brennan’s second birthday and all he wanted to do was meet the Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster, until he met Wally the Green Monster.
This may be one of the most important pieces I have ever written, with all deference to the book I penned which was read by upwards of 100,000 over the past three years.
Why is this so important? Because it’s about Concord, a city that I have loved, cherished, supported and cheered on for nearly 60 years. In fact Concord was much more than a mere supporting player in my book. Concord is one of the reasons I am still alive today!
In a matter of days, a vote will be cast that may forever change the way we see and experience our downtown area. While I certainly applaud change when it is for the better, the planned changes that are on the table do not, in my opinion, bode well for the future of our city.
While many of my past writings have been nostalgic visits to the Concord that was replete with Woolworths and Newberrys, I do not advocate or expect that we can ever return to those days of yore. However the plans being discussed are so radical that what we will be left with (beyond increased tax bills and monies foolishly spent), will further eradicate the rich and diverse historic value of Concord.
Recently someone noted to me the number of Presidents and Presidential candidates that had strode down our Main Street through the many years. Friends visiting from out of state also said to me last month, “What an amazing Main Street – so wide, expansive and welcoming. Do you know how fortunate you are to have such a street?”
I do realize that, and clearly many others also do and have angrily questioned the plans that have been put out there and supported by a seeming minority.
I have no doubt that some of our City Council are well-meaning and truly believe this project is what our city needs. Some of them do not, however, have the long ties to our community that some of those who are questioning this project have. In fact there are those who truly think they are saving the former “City in a Coma” from itself. Believe me when I say that in some 60 years of being in Concord, no moniker could be further from the truth.
Those who have bandied around the mistaken notion that Concord was ever a “City in a Coma” perhaps need to state that in order to justify their actions but what that expression truly does is insult the thousands of individuals who tirelessly labored to make our community, in the past, a richly diverse and connected city with plenty to do. No we didn’t have a dozen or more chain restaurants but in almost all other ways, opportunities were there if you sought them.
Recently I spoke to more than 150 people – a cross-section of Concord – about the planned changes to downtown. What especially surprised me was the level of anger and rage at the City and at government in general.
Just under 10% of those I spoke with unanimously supported this project. More than a few referred to the City Council as “evil”, and some even wondered where the Kool aid concession was in Council Chambers since it appeared many of the Council had clearly been sipping it which would explain some of the decisions being made. (The decisions specifically referenced were Loudon Road and the costly purchase of the former Employment Security building).
A few who regularly watch the Council Meetings on CCTV singled out Allan Herschlag as what they’d like to see from more Council members – questions about proposals, expenses and a need for more details. Those noting this included individuals identifying as Republican, Democrat, Independent and Tea Party Member.
Nearly 60% of those I spoke with feel the question of a Main Street makeover should be on a ballot, enabling them and others to vote on an expenditure that will impact local taxpayers for years to come. After all, they reasoned, it is everyone’s Main Street, not a Main Street that belongs to a select few.
The City of Concord is not required to seek a vote of confidence from the public but it might behoove them, in both a show of good faith and out of respect for those who will be impacted the most, to do so. If they prevail with a vote, then the naysayers can slip quietly away because Democracy will have prevailed. The word most often used to me in describing the perceived attitude of the Council was “arrogant”. A vote would more than likely change the notions of some toward our elected officials.
There are numerous reasons not to proceed with the project at this juncture. They include the possible impact of the parking study on the project. Even though the study is not just the downtown area but involves other parts of Concord, the fact that it involves downtown should make it important enough to be studied and analyzed when completed next year before any changes begin.
Next year is the City’s 250th anniversary and the possibility of construction deterring people from visiting our community is strong. No amount of P.R. put out there changes the notions that some will have to avoid any level of inconvenience.
Sadly there is a lengthy history of tearing down buildings that helped define our amazing history and I won’t even begin to list the dozens of pieces of that history that are gone. It’s still not too late to embrace what remains, to build upon it and create a destination stop that hundreds of thousands would desire to visit. Cities and places that cherish their historic value generally thrive and prosper. How many people visit cities throughout Europe solely for the history contained therein?
Yesterday I visited the Steeplegate Mall in the middle of the afternoon and was one of perhaps 100 people in the entire place. In fact when I made a purchase at a store at 3 PM, I was told I was their first sale of the day.
The Mall is clearly teetering on an abyss and could easily slide into oblivion in the near future taking with it the city tax revenue it generates. Perhaps our Council need to be preparing for that possibility and how it would impact on Concord in many ways instead of planning more changes that could potentially also have a negative impact.
I’ve not been one of those people sitting on the sidelines finding fault with everything I do not agree with. In my writing and on my radio program, I promote our community and everything about it because I believe in Concord and know the future we can have and that the future is not built on a foundation of multimillion dollar obliterations of all that we truly are. Aspiring to be something we aren’t instead of building upon what we are is inevitably a recipe for failure.
In the past few years I’ve volunteered my time and talents to restoring the kind of beautiful downtown holiday lights that once graced our city. Statistics show that holiday lighting can indeed generate shopper interest and my plan would not have cost merchants or taxpayers one penny. I guess because the plan didn’t involve using millions of Federal dollars it was not worth pursuing.
Earlier this year I tried to rehabilitate the historic Concord Theatre before it falls into the kind of disrepair that will render it forever lost. As with the holiday lights, there was no follow through or even interest in a meeting to explore out possible options.
There are obvious problems in a system that has created such a perceived sense of voter apathy and a defeatist attitude in so many of our residents. “They’ll do what they want to do and it doesn’t matter what we the voters want”, was a phrase oft-heard when I spoke with people recently.
If businesses start to struggle and/or fail during the construction phase, who is going to accept the responsibility? If the end result does not achieve what has been spun for all these years, who will admit, “We were wrong!”?
I won’t wag my finger and say “I told you so”, should this eventuality occur. What I will do is hope that a concerned group of citizens will rally around and try to find a way to save at least a vestige of this great city.
In the mail on Saturday I received an 8 page letter containing more than 250 signatures. They were names I have been acquainted with including some business owners and community leaders as well as names that I know only from the various media.
The letter asked me to consider running for office next year because, “Your obvious dedication and passion for all things Concord is inspiring and should be the norm in our community”.
I was flattered, humbled and rather amazed to put it mildly, thinking of the proverbial “elephant in the room” or perhaps a herd of elephants before realizing that most of them had read the book and so there were no surprises.
It was further noted that far too many people in Concord have the feeling that their voices are no longer being heard and in my opinion, Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Tea Party Members ALL deserve to have their voices heard and to be a part of any and all discussions that involve them.
I don’t know what I’ll do. My days of making impulsive decisions are long gone and I tend to be more methodic in my thinking. However, my love for Concord is unwavering so who knows.
The words of a song made famous by a dear friend, Doris Day, come to mind.
“Que Sera Sera, whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see…….”
However, if you have the ability to shape the future in a good way, maybe you should.
Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. talks to Chris about the secrets to being a great center fielder.
Congressional candidate Marilinda Garcia talks about reviving the middle class, energy issues and foreign policy.
Chris Ryan and Dean Spiliotes sat down with US Senate candidate Scott Brown for a in-depth extended interview at The Barley House. A must listen!
Republican candidate for Governor Andrew Hemingway talks about his plan to address high NH corporate tax rates.
Matt and Chris recap a incredible weekend NH! Matt got a new contract with the Spurs, toured the state with the championship trophy and held a benefit concert. Interviews include NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz and Okkervil River front man Will Sheff.
NH native and Okkervil River singer/songwriter Will Sheff talks with Chris about playing the Rock on Foundation’s “Sneakers and Speakers” benefit on Saturday in Portsmouth.