North End Walk Draws 50; Charrette Begins

North End Walk
Around 50 people turned out in chill weather for a citizen-led walking tour of the North End hosted by PS21  (Portsmouth Smart 21st Century) on Saturday. Above, PS21’s Karen Marzloff addresses the crowd.

Participants discussed current and potential development in the neighborhood, and the character of the North End in anticipation of the City of Portsmouth’s Nov. 10-13 charrette on ‘character-based’ zoning.

The charrette begins with a public presentation and hands-on workshop at 6 p.m. Monday in the former Portsmouth Herald building on Maplewood Avenue.  Above, Karen Marzloff of PS21 addresses participants. For more information on the charrette, see

North End charrette schedule announced

A four-day visioning and design charrette (workshop) on  ‘character-based’ zoning for the North End will begin with a public presentation and hands-on workshop at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 10 in the former Portsmouth Herald building on Maplewood Avenue.

The charrette will include organized discussions, but the public  can drop in to view maps, comment and contribute ideas during an open studio from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day at 111 Maplewood Ave.

The opening session, beginning at 6 p.m. Monday, will include a presentation and hands-on exercise for participants.

The second day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, will feature three roundtable discussions: business, landowners and developers (10 a.m.); building scale and design issues (1 p.m.); and public streets, infrastructure and civic spaces.

The third day, Wednesday, Nov. 12, will include a public pin-up and review session (6 p.m.) where the consultants present ideas and alternatives and receive feedback.

The final day of the charrette, Thursday. Nov. 13, will include a work-in-progress presentation (6 p.m.) at City Hall. This session will describe the preliminary vision for the area, explain the elements of the plan, and present other findings and work products developed during the charrette. The public also will have another opportunity to provide feedback.

Following the charrette, Town Planning will prepare a draft of amendments to Portsmouth’s Character-Based Zoning Ordinance. The draft ordinance be reviewed by the Planning Board and will need the approval of the City Council.

For more information, see the city web page


North End walk set for Nov. 8

In anticipation of the City of Portsmouth’s sessions on  ‘character-based’ zoning for the North End, PS21 will host a citizen-led walking tour of the neighborhood beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8.

The walk of approximately one mile will give residents an in-person, up-close view of buildings, projects and developable lots.

What: North End Walk
When: 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 8 (approx. 1 hour, rain or shine)
Where: Meet at 9:45 a.m. on Maplewood Avenue by Cindy Ann Cleaners (203 Maplewood Ave.)

The North End was dramatically altered by urban renewal actions in the 1960s, and it is once again undergoing major changes.  After the walk, residents should be able to more easily visualize the North End neighborhood during the Nov.  10-13 design workshop, or charrette, on the new zoning.

See “City kicks of discussions about character-based zoning.”

PS21 will supply a map of the North End along with short descriptions of properties, conservation areas, and current or proposed projects.

Document quantities, however, will be limited. To be guaranteed of receiving a copy, RSVP to

(The walk, hardy New Englanders, will rain or shine. If it’s really dismal, we’ll post the documents on the website.)


Notes on Oct. 22 Workshop with Plan NH

More than 30 people attended a PS21 event on Oct. 22, a workhop with the statewide nonprofit Plan New Hampshire. Plan NH’s Robin LeBlanc says the workshop aims to “shift” thinking about the future by examining assumptions about life here, conversations that are going on, and questions people have or might ask about the coming decades.

Below are notes on the wide-ranging discussion as recorded by PS21’s Jerry Zelin.

Robin LeBlanc leads Plan NH workshop with PS21A Workshop, “SHIFT,” led by Robin LeBlanc of Plan NH
7-9 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 22
Portsmouth Middle School Auditorium

Notes by Jerry Zelin

Doug Roberts: Announces a North End walk scheduled for 10-11 a.m. Nov. 8, 2014, 10 A.M., starting at on Maplewood AvenueCindy Ann Cleaners, to discuss possibilities for each lot in the North End.

Robin LeBlanc: She has lived in New Hampshire for 30 years, currently Exec. Dir. of Plan New Hampshire.

Audience: Attendees introduce themselves. Most live in Portsmouth. Some live in Eliot, Durham, etc.

Robin: Plan NH develops workshops like this, to trigger shifts in thinking about the future of towns and cities. Not Portsmouth-specific but for any community …

Audience at Plan NH workshop
Why did people move here?

Vibrant downtown
Near ocean
Historic character
Creative community
Socio-economic diversity when moved here

Robin: Those are our values. How would a real estate broker describe Portsmouth?
Continue reading

Oct. 22 – ‘SHIFT: A Different Way to Think About Decision-Making and Planning Our Future’

- A PS21 event featuring PLAN NH
- Portsmouth Middle School Auditorium
– 6:30-9 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 22

Community planning and decision-making has become more than just about growth and development. Our economic, social and environmental structures have changed dramatically in the past two decades, and more change is on the way — in demographics, climate, the economy, energy and more.

PS21 is sponsoring a workshop by the statewide nonprofit Plan NH that aims to address change and “shift” ways of thinking about our community, our roles in it, and what considerations will lead to a healthy and vibrant future.

The workshop will be held Wednesday, October 22nd from 7 to 9 p.m. in the new Portsmouth Middle School auditorium. Registration opens at 6:30, the workshop starts promptly at 7.

In this fun and eye-opening workshop led by Robin LeBlanc of Plan NH, participants will learn to think about planning for the future and the decisions we make about where we live, work and play from a different vantage point.

The workshop consists of an hour-long, whole-group discussion followed by small-group discussions and then a wrap-up with the whole group.

Topics include:

  • Assumptions, conversations and questions that affect our community decisions and planning
  • Doing a 180 in how we tackle issues
  • How values influence planning and decision-making
  • The four infrastructures that are the foundation of a community
  • Forces of change that are having an impact.

Pre-registration is not required for the free event, but an RSVP will help with planning. Send email to

About Plan NH: Plan NH’s mission is to encourage good planning and design and development because, we believe, what we build, where we build and how we build has a significant impact on the health and vitality of a community. The workshop leader, Robin LeBlanc, has a background of leadership including program development and project management, marketing and business development and has lived in Portsmouth with her family for 30 years.

About PS21: Portsmouth SmartGrowth 21st Century (PS21) aims to present ideas and encourage discussion and policy development around planning issues in Portsmouth, N.H. Our goal is to support the creation of a vibrant, sustainable, livable, and walkable community compatible with the principles of smart development, the historic nature of Portsmouth, and the context of the 21st century. PS21 is a nonprofit group of residents and business people supporting and presenting informational events as a basis for discussing development in Portsmouth, with the goal of establishing a long-term vision for the city.


Rescheduled to Nov. 8: North End Walking Tour. Get to know the North End in advance of the Portsmouth’s November charrette on “character-based” zoning. PS21 will lead an informal walking tour of the neighborhood. View properties, projects and potential development sites on Vaughn, Deer, Bridge and other streets in the area. Details to be announced.



Portsmouth Lagging on Traffic Enforcement

Concern about speeding in Portsmouth is on the rise, according city officials and a recent Portsmouth Herald article on the possible use of police cameras.

Police cameras, however, are against state law in New Hampshire. So how are Portsmouth police doing with the traditional, labor-intensive approach of controlling speeding — making traffic stops and issuing warnings and summonses? A comparison with Dover and Concord suggests that traffic enforcement has been a lower priority in Portsmouth.

In 2013, Dover police issued 659 written warning and summonses per patrol officer. Concord, meanwhile, issued around 390, according to the departments. During the same period, Portsmouth patrol officers issued 68 tickets and written warnings per officer .

Traffic enforcement comparison Continue reading

Bike-Ped Plan Adopted; Projects in the Pipeline

Portsmouth’s Planning Board has adopted a voluminous and detailed master plan for the city’s bicycle and pedestrian future. The long-term goal is to create a largely unbroken network of safe and useful bike paths and pedestrian walkways throughout the city.

The plan includes programs to be initiated (such as for bike safety), and more than 200 specific infrastructure changes (large PDF). Changes include revamped intersections, new bike paths, updated sidewalks and more.

Juliet Walker, city transportation planner, described some the first projects that will be undertaken.

Continue reading

Open Streets Portsmouth Sept. 14

A mile of neighborhood streets in Portsmouth will be transformed into a public park for people to walk, bike, stroll, skip — whatever — from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday,  Sept. 14.

Vehicle traffic will be restricted along Willard, Park, Lincoln, Elwyn  and Clough streets, and Seacoast residents will be invited to use the street as they please. Bike activities are planned for youngsters.  there may be yoga, BBQs and more.

The project is an effort of Portsmouth resident Peter Newbury and the SABR, the Seacoast cycling group. Volunteer help is being sought. Sign up on the event website,

“There is no start, finish, or preferred direction.  Join us anywhere you can,” according to the organizers.



City Expands Parking Shuttle Service

Portsmouth’s downtown parking shuttle , which has operated Friday thru Sunday since May, has been enough of success so that the city is expanding its  hours of operation.

Beginning Aug. 7, the shuttle will operate on Thursdays, from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. It will also starting operation earlier on Fridays, at noon on Friday instead of 4 p.m. The shuttle picks up passengers every 10 minutes at the Connect Community Church off Market Street near Exit 7 on I-95 and drops them off the the parking garage on Hanover Street.

According to a press release, during the 13 weeks of operation, the shuttle’s total daily ridership has increased from an average of 45 riders per day to just over 190 riders per day. The city attributes the increase to growing awareness of the shuttle service as well as increased demand with the arrival of the peak summer tourism season.

The shuttle will operate until Sunday, Aug. 31. For complete information, see the shuttle website at