What do those of us who live and work here in New Hampshire want for the future of our communities? How can we keep what we value, meet the challenges of changing demographics, and increase economic vitality and opportunity? These are the kinds of questions at the heart of A Granite State Future. This project, coordinated by the State’s nine regional planning commissions (RPCs), is a local and regional dialogue among businesses and non-profit organizations, governmental agencies and voters, newcomers and long-term residents to consider the critical question: how should we plan for the future?
To create a plan which is reflective of all the unique towns, landscapes and people in the region, SNHPC has embarked on an ambitious public outreach process to learn what people see their communities as and what they would like their communities to be like in the future. This outreach has entailed information booths at public events, such as the Deerfield Fair, visual preference surveys, comment cards, a mobile text messaging questionnaire and an online website to input comments.
What we have learned so far paints a picture of a region that embraces New Hampshire’s rural and rugged character as well as its traditional town centers for shopping and community. Preference in housing choice varied from more dense, in-town single-family homes popular with respondents in Manchester; suburban neighborhoods received about equal support between respondents in Manchester and rural residents; rural homes were most popular overall. Transportation preferences favored both driving and rail. Having the option to safely walk or bike also received much support. While bus and rideshare modes of transportation were not as popular overall, respondents from Manchester were much more likely to select the bus as a preference. For shopping, traditional town and village centers were the preference amongst all respondents. Big box stores were also well received.
Preferences related to recreation and public space were similar between the various areas. Open space and forests were significantly and consistently preferred, relating back to the preference for a rural atmosphere in much of the region. Overall, most commonly enjoyed in the region are traditional development patterns and rural landscape as well as sense of community. Needing the most improvement includes transportation infrastructure along with increasing economic development opportunities, according to survey results.
As Granite State Future continues, the next step is to develop a regional vision and to think about where the best places and ways are to accommodate an increasing population while maintaining the scenic and rural character treasured by so many, as well as the better utilization of existing infrastructure. In order to do so, we are seeking input, ideas, and thoughts on this from the area’s community. Please join us for a public planning workshop where we will explore this question and get your ideas on what your vision of the future is!
The dates and locations for the Regional Vision Workshops are as follows:
March 19th – Granite State Future Regional Vision Workshop focusing on the City of Manchester –6:00PM (Memorial High School, 1 Crusader Way, Manchester). Please register at http://tinyurl.com/RegisterListening
April 13th – Granite State Future Regional Vision Workshop focusing on the towns of New Boston, Weare, Goffstown and Bedford – 8:30AM to 12:00PM Noon (Whipple Free Library, New Boston). RSVP to email@example.com, 669-4664
May 18th – Granite State Future Regional Vision Workshop focusing on the towns of Candia, Deerfield, Raymond, Hooksett, Auburn and Chester – 8:30AM to 12:00PM Noon (Moore School, Candia) RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org, 669-4664
June 1st – Granite State Future Regional Vision Workshop focusing on the towns of Derry, Londonderry, and Windham – 8:30AM to 12:00PM Noon (Barka Elementary School, 21 Eastgate Rd., Derry) RSVP to email@example.com, 669-4664
For more information, please contact Jillian Harris at 669-4664
David J. Preece, AICP, Executive Director
Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission