To the Editor: 

The following is an “open letter” to the Board of Selectmen. 

Dear Selectpersons, 

First, thank you for your service.  You have a lot on the docket right now. 

I am writing in reference to the proposed 40B project because it seems, with Covid, that there is little chance of any sort of public forum or opportunity to convene.  It seems, in fact, that this whole project is occurring behind the “screen” of Covid, and that we Manchester residents are going to come out of this contagion and find that there is a massive cookie cutter-style building looming over the town and 10% more residents.  What a surprise! 

I, and many of us, have so many concerns that I hardly know where to begin.  Yes, I think everyone would agree that we need more affordable housing.  But, there are already some sites within the town as opposed to a massive, segregated site on upper School Street, far away from public transportation, amenities, etc.  I am aware that good work is being done already regarding affordable housing.  Some possibilities are that Newport Park could be demolished and rebuilt with higher density, more efficiencies and up to code.  We do, after all, own the land there.  There is also The Plains, Loading Place Road and the old DPW site. 

With the addition of 500 or so more people to the town, I am very concerned about water supply.  I grew up on the No. Shore and have watched town after town embrace unfettered development, and most of these towns are now suffering from water shortages…not just during summer months, but year round.  I am also worried about run-off and contamination of our water supply, not to mention the impact of this massive project on contiguous conservation land.   

In the aerial plan of the proposed project, the leaching field was not indicated on the plan nor the sewage treatment plant….it only showed the building surrounded by woods…very misleading. 

I also listened to the Fire Chief express concern that he would need five (!) more firemen to cope with such a massive structure.  Who is going to pay for that?  And the schooling of many more children?  I have heard that each child will be supported by an extra $3K annually from the Commonwealth.  Clearly, the majority of the educational expense will be borne by the taxpayers. 

I am concerned about traffic as congestion is already an issue on School Street (not to mention downtown area) in the mornings and evenings.  I am concerned about more stop lights required for this influx of vehicles…esp. since this project requires vehicular transport as it is so far away from public transportation. 

I am concerned that this project will cost taxpayers, and will not benefit the town, other than fulfilling requirement for affordable housing units. 

I am concerned that such a massive and unattractive structure will not enhance our town, but will be a blight on it.  At night, it will look like a small city.  By day, it appears (from renderings and superimposing the design on existing photos) to resemble all the large, ugly buildings that one sees along Rte. 128.  Is this what we want for our charming, beautiful town?  Are we really being good stewards of this town? 

Surely, the developer will benefit from the construction of this project, but will the town?  I am also wondering who will manage this place once it is built? 

I feel as though this project is a large meteor hurtling towards us and there is so little time to grapple with all the issues and to try to manage it to our best advantage.  I wonder about the time schedule with Covid playing such a big role in disrupting opportunities for public engagement and information. 

Again, my thanks to you for your work.  I trust you will be the best stewards possible under very trying circumstances. 

R.G. Campbell 

Manchester