City Hall: What's in a name? A lot of Manchester history

Oct. 30—WHAT'S IN a name?

A lot, when it involves requests to name and rename two spots in the city after prominent Manchester residents.

Aldermen gave their blessing last week to two such requests — one from Mayor Joyce Craig to rename Barrister Lane (which runs alongside Veterans Memorial Park) after former Police Chief Thomas J. King, the other from state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro to name an alleyway near the entry to Prout Park to "General Richard Vercauteren Way," after the late brigadier general.

In a memo to aldermen, Craig said she has been in contact with King's family, who asked the city to consider naming something after the former chief to commemorate his 100th birthday last June.

"After working with Public Works Director (Tim) Clougherty, it was confirmed that Barrister Lane, that runs between Merrimack and Central Streets behind the County Courthouse, can be renamed," Craig wrote in her request. "I am respectfully requesting the Lands & Buildings Committee approve renaming Barrister Lane to Chief Thomas J. King Lane in honor of his tremendous contributions to our community."

According to information provided by the city, King was born in Manchester, a first-generation Irish-American, from parents who immigrated from the west of Ireland to start a new life in the Manchester mills.

Upon graduation from Central High School, King enlisted in the U.S. Navy before embarking on a 40-year career with the Manchester Police Department.

King joined MPD in 1950 and walked downtown beats as a patrolman, rising through the ranks until being appointed chief in 1975.

He was chief for 16 years before retiring in 1991 after 40 years of service.

"Tom was proud of his profession and believed law enforcement was about helping people," Craig wrote.. "His policing style emphasized 'community policing' before it was accepted as a national best practice. Tom's career was characterized by fairness and respect.

"Under his leadership, the Manchester Police Department became one of the first police departments in the United States and the first in New Hampshire to achieve professional accreditation. This was one of the many achievements that helped develop the Manchester Police Department into the professional, well-respected department it is today."

Once retired, King continued his community service by re-establishing the Manchester St. Patrick's Day Parade committee in 1994 and serving as president. The parade has an award in his honor given to a recipient of non-Irish heritage "who has contributed to the betterment of Manchester."

"The parade continues to this day and offers a chance for all citizens to gather and celebrate what has become a multicultural holiday," Craig wrote. "Tom's successful career was closely tied with the strength of his unique capacity to build respectful relationships with people — from all walks of life. He often used a shamrock as a metaphor for the values he held to his heart; faith, family, and friends."

The second request looks to honor Vercauteren, who grew up in the Queen City and played sports at Prout Park as a youth.

Vercauteren graduated from Bishop Bradley High School (now part of Trinity High School) and then Providence College. He served in Vietnam and had a distinguished career in the U.S. Marine Corps., rising to the rank of brigadier general.

"To my knowledge, he is the highest-ranking Marine officer to come out of Manchester," D'Allesandro wrote in a memo to aldermen. "He received numerous commendations, including the Silver Star."

The alley will have signage at the entryway marking "General Richard Vercauteren Way."

Cards for the military

The mayor's office on the third floor of City Hall, 1 City Hall Plaza, will again be a drop-off location for holiday cards for the military.

Founded in 2017 by Dr. Laura Landerman-Garber, the goal of Holiday Cards for Our Military Challenge is delivering personalized, signed expressions of respect, caring and gratitude to deployed U.S. troops.

"Participating in Holiday Cards for our Military Challenge is an easy and impactful way to recognize our service members and let them know they're not alone during the winter holiday season," Craig said in a statement.

Cards should adhere to the the following guidelines:

1. Use a greeting card or a piece of paper (no larger than 8.5 x 11) folded in half.

2. Start the card with "Dear Warrior."

3. Write a personal note about yourself and your community. Share how you celebrate the holidays, a favorite holiday memory or draw a holiday scene. Feel free to be serious, funny or both, but remember to use appropriate and respectful language, and that our troops are diverse in their holiday practices and beliefs.

4. Sign your first name only, along with your city or town, and state. Include your school, business or community group if you want to.

5. Envelopes are not necessary. If you do include an envelope, do not seal it. If you want to, you can write "Warrior" on the outside, and decorate the envelope.

The 2022 deadline is Nov. 18. Cards submitted after the deadline will be used for later mailings.

Drop off completed cards at the Office of Mayor Joyce Craig, 3rd floor of City Hall at 1 City Hall Plaza. Cards also may be addressed as "Holiday Card Challenge" and sent to P.O. Box 103, Hollis, NH 03049.

If using FedEx or UPS, please send to: Holiday Card Challenge, 5 Hutchings Drive, Suite 100, Unit 103 Hollis, NH 03049.

For more information, visit the Holiday Cards for Our Military Challenge website at militaryholidaycardchallenge.com.

Money for more housing

City aldermen have approved $3 million in federal funds to increase the number of affordable housing units in the city through three projects.

Lincoln Avenue Capital, a Santa Monica, California, firm, will develop two buildings of affordable housing, one at 351 Chestnut St., the site of the former police station, and a second replacing a parking lot across the street at the corner of Chestnut and Merrimack streets. Together, the projects will create approximately 142 studio, one- and two-bedroom units, affordable for individuals at up to 60% of the area median income.

The third project will create three new units of emergency housing for families experiencing homelessness at the Families in Transition Family Place Shelter at 167 Lake Ave.

Paul Feely is the City Hall reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Reach him at pfeely@unionleader.com.