Albert Einstein said, "in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity."

Do you love Portsmouth? Do you enjoy eating and drinking downtown? Shopping? Are you fond of experiencing the city with your family, friends, and colleagues?

Then help us keep Portsmouth alive and thriving. Help us so that we can continue to offer its residents and visitors the cultural delights they’ve come to know and enjoy.

Cities are also innovating and changing models. In Seattle and Cincinnati, entire streets are closed so that people can walk and social distance. Streets are blocked off so that diners can sit outside and enjoy food from restaurants that don’t have an area for outdoor seating. Parking lots, parklets and alleyways become al fresco dining rooms. Put up some big tents like those we use at events and weddings and it’s just fine in rainy weather, too. – Rachel Forrest

We are working on a plan to move forward and to get our community and business back to what it needs to be. It may not be a perfect plan, but it is an actionable and timely plan — which needs to be acted upon quickly (implemented no later than July 1) to save our downtown as we know and love it.

Restaurant owners Joanna Kelley, Al Fleury, and Joe Kelley have a plan to close four Market Square streets for outdoor dining and shopping. They hired an engineer to show how it can work, and are hoping city officials can make it a reality soon.

One comment by an urbanist who was asked about the project struck a chord: “Instead of having a hundred committee meetings over how horrible this is going to be and no one’s going to use them and all the other arguments people make. Just do it and it will come to ‘this street didn’t make the most sense but this one’s really working.’” – Rachel Forrest

This plan could be endlessly debated and talked about, but due to COVID 19, we don’t have time, or we should say our businesses don’t have that kind of time.

How can you help? You can help us by writing a letter in support of closing the streets for outdoor dining and sending it to the city council members here: https://www.cityofportsmouth.com/citycouncil/contact-all-city-councilors

Portsmouth has a long history of coming together to overcome adversity. Remember, “Keep Portsmouth Loud?” Back in 2014, The Prescott Park Arts Festival was getting some heat for being ”too loud.”

Residents took it upon themselves to organize discussions about how to bridge the gap between those that wanted a sleepy seaside bedroom community and those that wanted a thriving nightlife. People attended city hall meetings to voice their concerns respectfully, and in the end the music played on in Prescott Park.

Do you want to be part of the solution? Then help the local businesses and restaurants and their staff figure out a way to reopen downtown as soon as possible while following all of the safety precautions, proper sanitation, disinfection, and procedures that are consistent with the highest industry standards.

We need to act now and reform this plan while implementing it so that it is timely and effective. We need to take the leap and be ready and willing to be flexible, make changes, and once we do this, we will wonder why we didn’t do it sooner.

With sincerest gratitude, and looking forward to seeing you soon!

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