Change always brings controversy. But let's review the facts of the redevelopment of the High Ridge site, a 5.5 acre site perhaps the last commercial property to be re-developed in town. The Mullaney Hospitality Group has proposed a mixed use re-development of the parcel with a Hampton Inn & Suites and three retail buildings. Currently, the site has one remaining store occupied and a sea of empty buildings and asphalt.
The plan has been approved by the Development and Design Review Boards and the Planning Commission. Residents of the adjacent Hillvale agree. But yet, a small group of lodging properties - their numbers cannot be verified - wants to hold up the project for fear of competition. Isn't this the country where free enterprise prevails? Isn't this what our forefather's waged battles for the past couple of hundred years?
Here are the facts:
· The project will generate $20 million dollars of new spending in town. We are just recovering from the recession and need this local stimulus to put us back on the top as a resort destination.
· From the outset, jobs will be created and local contractors will benefit.
· The impact on local business will be enormous. Restaurants, shops, service stations and providers will see a spike in business from the new visitors that come to town.
· For taxpayers, it will mean adding $1.4 million dollars in tax revenue during the first year. We have just received our tax bills. Do we really want to see the amount increase?
· The plans have been vetted by those charged with overseeing the town's future. No variances were requested throughout the permit process. On all levels, the project meets the requirements of the town plan and bylaws.
· Prior to undertaking the plans, PKF conducted a hospitality study to determine the capability of another lodging institution. Their results concluded that a Hampton Inn & Suites would not compete with local inns, but will drive travelers who would otherwise stay in surrounding towns to Manchester, and as a result the hotel will produce a significant level of induced, new demand in the market.
· Through their affiliation with the Hilton brand for rewards points, travelers who earn points on business through Hilton's loyalty program can redeem them in Manchester introducing a new client to the area.
· Once here, there will be options for their return visits to stay in other lodging establishments and to sample the breath of offerings in the area.
· New opportunities will develop. Currently, small group business meetings have avoided Manchester due to the lack of rooms and meeting spaces. The area is unable to bid on these groups. Riley Rink doesn't have a good offering for local ice hockey, soccer and field hockey tournaments. Wouldn't it be great if we could nurture that business?
We need your support now. Write letters to the newspaper, call your neighbors and urge the town to move forward with the project. It doesn't make sense to engage in a costly legal battle when funds could be used to improve the quality of living for all.