Mayor Kendall W. Lane
3 Washington St.
Keene, NH 03431
JANUARY 1, 2014 INAUGURAL ADDRESS:
I would like to welcome you all here today and thank you for coming as we begin the 2014-2015 session of the Keene City Council.
First, I would like to thank those members of the staff who are here and in particular, Patty Little, City Clerk, Tom Mullins, City Attorney and John MacLean, City Manager. It is only with their assistance and direction that the city runs smoothly and the policies of the City Council are accomplished.
Next, I would like to congratulate all those who have been sworn in to serve on the new City Council and in particular, our 3 new Councilors, Sheryl Redfern, Emily Hague and Randy Filiault. I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with them for the future best interest of the City.
Keene has seen many accomplishments during the past 2 years. We have continued our investments in our roads; sewer and water systems, Robin Hood Dam, lower Washington Street, Railroad Street, Grove Street, Winter Street, Summer Street and School Street have all been rebuilt or are currently underway. The new Central Fire Station and the new Cheshire County Court House are now open for business. The Keene District Court is no longer sharing this space as it did for the past 30 years. We have worked diligently this past year to mitigate the impacts of flooding on Beaver Brook as we face the realities of changing storm patterns in Keene.
The City has continued to work with Keene State College on issues of mutual concern and we have strengthened our relationship. We are currently working to establish a joint commission to make specific recommendations for our future.
We have also been working with the Keene School District to find areas of shared interests and overlapping expenditures to benefit the Keene taxpayers.
Several recreational amenities have been completed in the city, including North Bridge and the reconstruction of the rail trail from Route 9 to Whitcomb’s Mill Road. This investment and these amenities are important to the future of our city as we work to sustain our employment base in the 21st century.
I have revived the Presidents’ Court and we have had several luncheons with the business leadership in Keene to discuss issues of concern to them, including recruiting of future employees and the creation of desirable amenities for the city.
All this work is intended to make this city a desirable and attractive place for the next generation to settle and to raise their families. Our focus is to create a city that people will want to come to, a community where people feel encouraged to stay in order to sustain our employment base. That is how we will grow and prosper in the future.
Despite the work that has been done we still have many challenges ahead. Parking has been an issue for many years as we now work to develop a comprehensive parking plan for the downtown. An ice arena is now the closest to reality as it has ever been and the city will be working closely with Keene Ice and MEDC to bring it to fruition. We have recently been awarded a grant to construct the Roundhouse T; that section of the rail trail between School Street and Island Street where 3 branches of the trail system converge. We are also working with the state on South Bridge to extend the trail system across Route 101. This spring we will begin reconstruction of upper Washington Street.
Planning for the future has long been a hallmark of this community. In September of 2010, we completed Keene’s Comprehensive Master Plan and since then we have been working on the implementation of the Plan. The City Manager has been working to align the Capital Improvement Program and the budget with the Master Plan. We are currently gathering public comment on the land use and zoning study of the Marlboro Street corridor and later this year, we will begin work to update the city’s land use codes, including the zoning ordinance to reflect the vision of the city’s Master Plan.
We are working to create a quality of life second to none, but if Keene is to continue to be a desirable place to live it remains essential to have a balance between the environmental quality, economic quality and social equity in our community. Our goals are clear – to make Keene the best small city in America – to attract a 21st century workforce – to make Keene the first choice to raise a family, to get a job, to shop, to go to school.
To achieve this and to maintain our quality of life is the challenge. Over the next 2 years we need to work together, not only as a City Council but as a community made up of many people who care deeply about this city with a unified goal and a common purpose to chart the course for the future of our region and our community.