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Column: Actions for a Better Claremont

Thursday, October 02, 2014
Last week a group of citizens of Claremont and I gave the City Council a presentation in which we outlined what we learned through an unofficial survey about the issues (we call them opportunities) that deter the city from moving forward.

We are a group of average residents, business people, moms, dads, state representatives, bankers, teachers and retirees. We want anyone to join us and we have three simple rules: come with a positive attitude, check negativity and agendas at the door and bring ideas and enthusiasm to move Claremont forward.

We presented four areas of opportunity to be addressed. The first is enforcement of existing ordinances.

We had spoken with Chief Alex Scott, who was helpful and put in place training of officers about existing ordinances. Chief Scott also referenced the possibility of hiring another part-time patrolman to assist in enforcement. A noticeable change recently has been observed downtown and we will continue to hold the department accountable.

Second is clear and direct signage, specifically parking. We noted that visitors and residents alike can be easily misled or confused over where to park or what direction to go. A traffic audit identifying traffic flow and parking possibilities is being conducted soon, so we await the results. Our goal is to have traffic flow to the city center in an orderly and manageable way with clear and direct signage identifying parking and directions to affordable and free parking for visitors.

Third is beautification. Just as with someone coming into your home, we as a community want visitors and residents to appreciate and enjoy a pleasing setting that would keep folks coming back and build pride in the community.

Fourth is communication. We found a disconnect between the city and residents in the flow of information. We found the same inconsistencies between city departments and residents, a complete breakdown in information flow between various groups in and around Claremont, the projects they are working on, the frustrations shared and the need for volunteerism. We presented the city with a communications plan and showed the need for hiring a public information officer. This person could coordinate and disseminate information from and to the city and all groups and departments.

The council accepted our 93-page plan and will take up this and other items in November. Council members are very receptive and praised us for coming up with solutions. We are going to offer additional solutions and plans.

We are meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at 31 Pleasant St. on the second floor in the Odd Fellows meeting room, and invite anyone and everyone, keeping in mind the three rules, to join us and get involved. Our first project that we consider “low-hanging fruit” is lighting and beautifying the city center. We are going to be conducting a survey to identify interests.

If anyone would like to receive updates, send us your email address and be added to our growing list. We will be coordinating volunteers for various projects that we want to focus on, too. Call 603-995-1518 or email

Michael Charest is a resident of Claremont.

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