Plan New Hampshire Community Design Charrette

July 25, 2023

BETA Group, Inc. (BETA) is proud to have recently volunteered at a community design charrette hosted by Plan New Hampshire, a non-profit organization whose mission is to foster excellence in planning, design, and development within New Hampshire. The charrette was held on July 21st and 22nd in the City of Manchester, NH and attended by over 20 participants and other volunteers including city staff and elected officials. Plan NH encourages communities to hold charrette meetings in order to bring together local citizens, business owners, and other stakeholders to discuss existing infrastructure issues and develop mitigation measures by exploring potential solutions and brainstorming recommendations.  

During a Plan NH charette, the team visits the “target areas” (in this instance, Manchester’s Maple Street and Beech Street corridors) over a two-day period, collaborates with local residents, community leaders and members, and City and NHDOT Officials, to develop recommendations based on what they heard and observed, as well as their professional knowledge of ideas and trends that could contribute to a safe, beautiful, and vibrant community.

With an office right in the City and local knowledge from our work in the surrounding communities, BETA, a corporate member of Plan NH, did not hesitate to participate at the Manchester charrette. We were able to offer our transportation engineering and planning expertise to address traffic-related issues and quality of life improvements for a specific neighborhood corridor, densely populated with low income and immigrant families. Home to a high school and athletic facilities, the corridor has heavy pedestrian usage and significant traffic safety issues. Topics ranging from access to critical assets such as food stamps and financial assistance to infrastructure improvements and traffic calming strategies were all discussed by the group. Several improvement approaches were presented including reducing some streets to one-lane, adding bike lanes and shared use paths, planting street trees, adding benches, and improving traffic signal timing.

At the conclusion of the charrette, Plan NH and the charrette team were able to present the City with a strategic recommendation to improve access, equity, and safety within the targeted area. Tiffany Tononi McNamara, Executive Director of Plan NH, stated “Manchester definitely presented some challenges we don’t often see in smaller New Hampshire communities, and I think we can all be proud of our process and the recommendations we presented on Saturday.”

The group is now in the development phase of a final report, which will include written summaries of recommendations along with photos and sketches. For additional information about the event, we encourage you to read this recent article featured by NHPR.

Plan NH’s mission directly aligns with BETA’s, which is to improve the communities where we live and work. We are grateful to have had this opportunity to make a positive impact within Manchester, and look forward to supporting future charrettes organized by Plan NH.