Thursday, June 23, 2011
Last night, the City Council was presented the work completed by the ward redistricting committee. This committee was made up of the Mayor, Councilor Nedelka, State Representative Watters, myself and the City Clerk. We met over the past month and reviewed the opportunities we had to ensure that the ward populations were as even and balanced as possible. This ensures as close to possible a one person, one vote equation.
With this blog entry, I hope to describe the proposed charter change that the public may have the opportunity to vote on (if all goes well with the Attorney General's office, and a public hearing). To summarize, after the 2010 census data was received, we broke that data down to identify the population of each ward.
According to documentation from the Attorney General's office the ward populations need to all be within a range (approximately 4800 to 5100 residents). The ranges for the existing wards was between 4535 and 5775. As it turned out wards 5 & 6 had a population above the range and wards 1 and 2 have populations well below the range. Ward 3's population is on the border, and ward 4 was right on the money.
The shifting of population is such that Ward 1 gains from ward 6, and gives to ward 2. Ward 2 receives from ward 1 and ward 5, and gives to ward 3. Ward 3 takes from ward 2. Wards 5 and 6 give and do not receive, and ward 4 stays the same.
OK, here it is in detail.
Ward 6 to Ward 1
Currently there is a boundary between wards 6 and 1 running approximately along Horne Street, and also along a portion of Glenwood Avenue. Under the proposal being considered, the boundary shifts from approximately Horne Street to the Spaulding Turnpike. The boundary along Glenwood Avenue will now stretch for almost the whole length of the road.
The area to be adjusted, containing 785 residents, will be between the Cochecho River, Glenwood Avenue, Horne Street, and the Spaulding Turnpike. This area includes parts of Hough Street, Hull Avenue, Hillside Drive, Redding Street, Whittier Street and other streets in the area.
Ward 1 to Ward 2
Currently there is a boundary between wards 1 and 2 running approximately along Washington Street, between Central Avenue and Belknap Street. Under the proposal being considered, the boundary shifts from approximately just behind Washington Street to the Cochecho River.
The area to be adjusted, containing 356 residents, will be between the Cochecho River, St Thonmas Street, Belknap Street, and Chestnut Street. This area includes parts of Atkinson and Belknap, St Thomas Streets and other streets in the area.
Ward 5 to Ward 2
Currently there is a boundary between wards 5 and 2 running approximately along Arch Street, between Washington and Silver St. additionally, Rutland Street and Fisher Street are border areas.
The area to be adjusted, containing 448 residents, will be between the B & M Railroad line, the Spaulding Turnpike, Central Avenue, Locust Street and the Fisher Street, Rutland Street area around Woodman Park. This area includes parts of Towell Avenue, Parker Street, and other streets in the area.
Ward 2 to Ward 3
Currently there is a boundary between wards 2 and 3 starting at the intersection of Summer Street and Locust Street, crossing Central Avenue to Union Street, and running approximately to Court Street.
The area to be adjusted, containing 264 residents, will be along Silver Street, Elm Street, Locust Street and Union Street. The area between Union Street and Central Avenue towards the intersection with Court Street will now be in ward 3.This area includes parts of Locust Street, Summer Street, and other streets in the area.
So that's where we are right now, we have the full presentation given to the Council online, and will be creating more detailed maps in the coming weeks, after the Attorney General's office gives us the go ahead that the measure can be placed on the ballot as a charter change in November.
Before the measure is voted on, there are a few steps. For one thing, on or about July 11 the City Clerk will deliver the proposal to the Attorney General/ Secretary of State. At that point the State officials will review the proposal and ensure that is lawful and can be voted on.
After the State confirms that the proposal passes the lawfulness test, the City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposal and vote whether or not to add the charter change proposal to the City's November 8th municipal election ballot.
Should the public vote to enact the charter change, the wards would remain as they are today until June of 2012. This will allow time for outreach and education to those who are shifting wards. Also, it will occur after the Presidential Primary in 2012.
One last word of note, those Councilors elected in November will be able to serve their term no matter if they live in an area that is moved from one ward to another. In other words, if a council candidate from Whittier Street wins the ward 6 election, as that person is currently in Ward 6, and the public votes to adjust the ward boundaries, the new councilor will serve out their term rep[resenting ward 6, and in the November 2013 election that person would be running for Council in Ward 1.
As always, if you have questions, please feel free to ask them.