• McIntyre Project

Understanding the complex McIntyre Project

Jan. 21 -- To the Editor:

I have been thinking about the McIntyre project for a long time as it is such a prominent (no pun) and passion-filled topic in town.

The most recent articles in the Herald by John Tabor and Jeff McMenemy (both excellent) prompted me to rewatch (total of 3x) the Jan. 7 City Council meeting presentation.

It was an overview of the project history-to-date, well done and delivered by deputy city manager, Nancy Colbert-Puff. You can find it on the city’s website or youtube and rewatch for yourself (note: presentation starts 49 minutes into the meeting). It fully explained all the complexities of this endeavor by the city and its citizens, and all the input meetings that have come before. The homework with public input was done, a consensus was made, a framework of guidelines were created, and bids were obtained

The next step is for the financial plan to be finalized and the development plan to go through the city’s land use boards. The presentation was most notable for making clear the many US government requirements that must be adhered to for the public/private application to be approved by the National Park Service. There would also be ongoing review whereby the title to the property would revert to the government if the operation of the development was found to be non-compliant.

I do think that many in the public are not fully understanding all the constraints involved. In a scenario where the city decided to walk away from this opportunity and the General Services Administration put the site on the market, the future owner (if one was found), would also have to comply with the historic preservation restrictions. I’m not a mathematician, but I made some rough calculations based on the reported 864 citizens that signed a petition to Revisit McIntyre via Change.org. Assuming the signers are adults, and the population of those over 18 years old in Portsmouth is approximately 18,966 it would mean that the petition represents about 4.5% of all adults in town. That number will probably grow... At this juncture, perhaps we need a citizens vote to come to a consensus (again) and come together to support the outcome.

Cheri Bach


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