City Hall: Neighbors join call to clean up Colonial Village trash

Sep. 25—MEMBERS OF A condominium association have joined a growing chorus calling for trash to be cleaned up at the site of a homeless encampment.

Mike Gardner, president of The Pointe at Riverfront Condominiums Association at 55 River Front Drive, says he and fellow residents don't care whether the city or the property's owners clean up trash at the Colonial Village Apartments site, but, "We're tired of looking at it. We just want it gone."

Last week we reported on efforts by the owners and tenants of Colonial Village Apartments to push back against the city's efforts to get them to clean up trash at the site.

Earlier this month, Lawrence Palmisano, trustee with Colonial Village Realty Trust, and attorney Charles Cleary of the Manchester law firm Wadleigh, Starr & Peters wrote to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen upset with what they refer to as "unjust and excessive actions" by the city regarding Tax Map 418, Lot 12 in Manchester — a small narrow strip of land on the banks of the Merrimack River.

The property in question is bounded by the Merrimack River to the west, a railroad track owned by CSX Transportation to the east, and city property to the south. The property does not include the CSX railroad land, and CSX is solely responsible for its property.

Palmisano claims that more than a year ago the city cleared out a large homeless camp downtown under the Amoskeag Bridge overpass "without any particular solution to their lack of shelter."

"The former camp inhabitants walked up the CSX train tracks and set up a new encampment on the property," Palmisano wrote. "My understanding is that this result is commonplace for Manchester — the city clears a homeless camp from one location, only to have the homeless find a new location, sometimes on private property."

According to Palmisano, the encampment on the property has been there for more than a year, resulting in a "large amount of trash, debris, and waste" in the Merrimack River, on the CSX property, on city property and the Colonial Village property itself.

Gardner said he contacted officials at City Hall and Colonial Village ownership months ago about trash at the site.

"Our balconies face the river and can clearly see the trash on the Colonial Village property when the leaves fall from the trees," Gardner said. "It is quite disgusting."

The Pointe at Riverfront Condominiums is a 650-foot-long, three-story building with 68 units, which Gardner says contributes approximately $600,000 in yearly taxes to the city.

"Our owners would like to see this eyesore removed from the once pristine banks and land of the Merrimack River," Gardner said.

School board stipend

Next month, aldermen will be asked to vote on an increase in the stipend for Board of School Committee members from $2,000 to $4,000. They would start receiving that amount — the same as aldermen receive — in 2024.

On June 13, school board members voted to eliminate their district-provided health insurance, effective July 1.

School board members recommended that instead of receiving health insurance benefits, future school board members should instead get a $4,000-a-year stipend.

Ward 11's Nicole Leapley first raised the issue in July 2021 in a letter to board members, detailing how before she was elected she had coverage through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.

Once elected, she no longer was eligible for that plan because she receives health care coverage through the Manchester School District as an elected official with employee status.

"In other words, I discovered that to serve on the school board, I had to pay for the privilege."

School District Chief Financial Officer Karen DeFrancis said three school board members currently have health insurance through the district and four receive dental benefits.

School officials say by increasing the stipend and removing the health insurance option, the district will save almost $30,000 a year.

Trick-or-treat at night

City children will have the opportunity to trick-or-treat in the dark again this year, after Police Chief Allen Aldenberg announced that Manchester's Halloween trick-or-treating activities will take place Monday, Oct. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Sunset is pinpointed for 5:39 p.m. that day. Trick-or-treating is scheduled to begin when fewer cars are expected on the streets.

Residents should be prepared to receive trick-or-treaters during the designated hours.

Homeowners planning not to participate are advised that a good way to let trick-or-treaters know is to keep their outdoor lights turned off.

Parents or guardians should accompany children to ensure they safely move through city neighborhoods while respecting neighbors' properties.

For decades, Manchester police mandated trick-or-treating take place the Sunday afternoon before Halloween. In response to complaints, police argued that a Sunday afternoon was the safest time for trick-or-treaters.

That practice eased in 2010, when Halloween fell on a Sunday, and former police chief David Mara pushed the hours to 4 to 7 p.m.

The designated hours for trick-or-treating are set by the police chief under the City of Manchester Code of Ordinances/Title III: Administration, Chapter 31.15.

Paul Feely is the City Hall reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Reach him at