Manchester Select Board Sets 2025 Priorities


Each year the Select Board identifies a handful or so of priority projects that it hopes to advance during the fiscal year which runs from July through June.  Of course, during the course of the year, any number of issues can arise that demands attention often in place of the priorities that were identified but hopefully attention can return back to the priorities.

At a recent workshop, the Board agreed to the following priorities for the next 12 months:

MBTA Zoning: The Board is encouraged by the work of the MBTA Task Force and Planning Board as they craft a zoning proposal that should both meet the requirements of the new state law and retain the character of the community.  Work will continue on the zoning language with the goal of having everything ready for voters to have the final say at a Special Town Meeting in mid-November.  The Select Board will work with the Planning Board and the Task Force on hosting public forums and other outreach efforts to ensure residents are well informed prior to the vote. 

Housing Diversity:  Done correctly, the MBTA zoning efforts can also help advance the goal of diversifying the housing stack in town.  Manchester is comprised mostly of large, single-family homes, making it difficult for young families to move in as well as for older residents to remain in town with few options for down-sizing.  This is a carry-over goal from last year as the MBTA zoning crowded out additional efforts to create a more diverse housing stock. 

Emergency Preparedness:  While the Town is fortunate to have a well-resourced, trained, and effective public safety operations, more can be done to be better prepared for large-scale weather disasters and other calamities.  We tend not to think about these rare but extremely impactful events.  The better prepared we are and the more knowledge we can impart to residents on how best to respond to a natural or man-made disaster, the better off everyone will be.  Did you know that the high school serves as a community shelter should the need arise?  And that if it, too, becomes inhabitable, we would look outside of town to our neighbors at Gordon College for a regional shelter option.  Are you prepared to evacuate out of town on short notice if necessary?  Efforts will be undertaken to help raise awareness and better educate residents and staff about what steps to take during an emergency.    

Budget and Finance: Operational reviews or “audits” will be undertaken to see if there are options for streamlining municipal services or to see if a service is no longer critical to provide.  The budget process will be reviewed with an eye toward focusing more time on the long-range forecasts less time on individual line items – that is more “big picture” work and less time getting into the minutia of operations. 

Facility Plans and Financing: A recently completed facility plan lays out the needs and likely sequencing of large capital improvements.  A new focus is needed on what can the Town realistically afford and how can a more integrated schedule be developed that matches our financial resources with infrastructure needs.   Assessing what taxpayers can afford, when old debt retires and other liabilities go away, and what new revenues might be possible are all part of the mix here that needs to be carefully studied.

Climate Resiliency: To advance our ability to handle the challenges climate change presents will require ongoing efforts.  We have identified numerous projects that we hope to complete and will strive to undertake additional studies and engage the community in discussions about some of the hard choices we will face as it is likely we will not be able to protect everything from an advancing sea. 

New Town Administrator Recruitment: With my retirement set for next summer, efforts will get underway to hire my replacement.  Preliminary work will include assessing what skills the new person should possess and hiring a recruiting firm to assist with the process.