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Nashua city planners adopt riverfront development plan

Union Leader Correspondent

September 18. 2017 8:13PM

The Nashua Board of Aldermen will now consider a proposed riverfront development plan that is being supported by the Nashua City Planning Board. (Kimberly Houghton/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA — Using Nashua’s riverfront to promote businesses, attract new residents and encourage recreation is captured in a newly proposed riverfront development plan that has been adopted by city planners.

Last week, the Nashua Planning Board unanimously approved the riverfront development plan as part of the city’s master planning efforts, however the document must still be supported by the Board of Aldermen.

“There is so much potential in our riverfront,” said Sarah Marchant, the city’s community development director.

Nashua residents have expressed their desire for a continuous riverwalk that connects the Nashua River to downtown businesses and people, according to Marchant.

The city’s master plan has not been updated in about 15 years, Marchant told city planners, adding it is important to not only update plans for the downtown waterfront area, but comprehensively cover the entire city as well.

A Boston design firm has created a concept vision for the downtown waterfront area that includes ideas such as overwater decks, a band shell, expanded riverwalk, water features, boat docks and more.

The design work, crafted by Halvorson Design of Boston, is being used as a guide for potential improvements to Nashua’s riverfront — a plan that has now passed its first hurdle to future implementation.

“We wanted this to be a really visual process,” said Marchant, explaining hundreds of people have provided input and recommendations into what amenities they would like to have added along the waterfront.

Using suggestions gathered through an online master planning process and a series of public meetings, Halvorson Design is focusing the improvements on the Mine Falls Park area, down to Canal and Bridge streets and all of the areas in between.

In the millyard, ideas such as expanding its green space, adding a new riverwalk leading underneath the Broad Street Parkway and constructing several water features into the river could enhance the riverfront and promote development, according to the plan.

Further toward Main Street at the Greeley House area on the north side of the river, a large floating dock area is being proposed, as well as a boat dock that could be utilized by kayaks and other recreational activities, according to the plan.

On the south side of the river, a natural amphitheater is being recommended along the river’s edge, similar to a bandshell or shade structure, in addition to an over-the-water walkway behind Clock Tower Place.

“The intent is to create a (tax increment financing) district to cover long-term maintenance and some of the improvements,” said Marchant, explaining six grant applications have already been submitted or are in the process of being submitted.

The next step is to have the plan adopted by aldermen, she said. The final cost of the proposed project is not yet known; a cost estimate will be drafted once an engineering plan is completed.

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