, Gloucester, MA

August 2, 2013

Manchester asking residents: How are we doing?

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — MANCHESTER — The town that recently hired a new town administrator and director of the Department of Public Works, and one that had two newcomers elected to the Board of Selectmen this spring wants to know:

Are residents satisfied with their town and its services?

The town has crafted a survey, asking residents how they would rate Manchester’s services, why residents moved or decided to stay in Manchester in addition to gauging community involvement and how to improve the quality of life.

From public safety services to building code enforcement, the town wants input on what people think.

Town Administrator Gregory Federspiel said the goal was to paint a broad brush of what is working in the town, what needs improvement, what’s working and what isn’t.

He said “It’s pretty straightforward, (We are) just trying to get some feedback.”

The survey was also reviewed by various town departments and boards, to make sure the town could gather a wide range of opinions from residents.

The survey comes at a time when the town is dealing with the final steps of capping and securing the former burn dump on Pine Street, handling a land gift to be used for playing fields, and assessing how to replace or improve the two elementary schools in the district.

Residents out and about in town yesterday said there are other, more relatable issues to consider.

Maude Lahey, a Manchester resident and Crosbys employee, said she loves the shops in Manchester, but added the town needs a good art supply store.

She also brought up an old issue, which has been before Annual Town Meeting voters time and time again.

“The beach should be open to dogs all year,” she said, adding it would be best to split Singing Beach down the middle, one side having dogs year round and the other without canines altogether.

Otherwise, “I love everything about Manchester,” she said.

Carroll Cabot said Harbormaster Bion Pike and Federspiel are very well received, Federspiel has made a significant effort to reach out to residents.

She said something the town still needs to address is the unfunded liabilities with town and school district employees.

Cabot recognized Manchester is not unique in that sense, it is a widespread issue — but still important.

“The town is trying to address that, but the cost of these things grow incrementally,” she said.

Stephanie Smith, a recent college graduate who recently returned to Manchester, said she has noticed the erosion at Singing Beach.

Others commended the regional school district, and said Manchester is more economically diverse than some might think.

Kate Bullen brought up another problem, the infrastructure.

She said utility companies and town infrastructure is lacking.

“They need to fix that,” she said.

Manchester has struggled in the past to win the attention of National Grid when it comes to getting streetlights fixed or replaced and still deals with hardware problems with the utility company.

But she said Manchester is still a great place to live and has a fabulous community.

“It’s a classic New England small town,” she said.

The survey is available at town hall or on the town’s website.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at