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What will Hooksett Village’s future be?

In 1970, Joni Mitchell wrote a song called “Big Yellow Taxi”. The refrain was “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” But in Hooksett Village, town officials want to take stock of what they have, and want residents to offer input on what is worth preserving.

Two community forums are scheduled called “Help Shape the Future of Hooksett Village.” The first will be on Thursday, April 11, at 6 p.m. The second is Monday, April 22, at 6 p.m. Both will take place at Town Hall, 35 Main St.

Roger Hawk is president of Hawk Planning Resources of Concord, a community planning consultant with 35 years of experience in the field. He has been retained by the town, along with the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, to study and get input on what residents want for the Village.

“Hooksett Village has lost a lot of its history” said Hawk. “The Mill and the old rail station are gone by.”

While those landmarks were dismantled long ago, others remain. Hawk said it’s the goal of these forums to identify the assets that make Hooksett Village distinct, and how should future growth be handled to maintain its character.

Hooksett is one of several towns who won grants from the New Hampshire Housing Finance Agency to study ways to preserve New Hampshire villages as the social and cultural centers of their communities. The money is part of a larger federal grant. Hooksett received $30,000 for hiring consultants for studies. According to Town Administrator Dean Shankle Jr., the town also adds $7,000, $4,000 of which comes as non-cash, in-kind contributions.

The first meeting will focus on defining what exactly is considered part of the Village. Those in attendance will be asked to identify what makes Hooksett Village unique. The second forum will ask residents to offer suggestions on how future development should be handled and ideas on protecting, preserving and improving the Village.

The information gathered from these forums will be compiled into a report by Hawk and given to town officials who will decide on how to proceed. If the public shows strong support for preserving Village aesthetics the Planning Board could decide to create a “heritage district” in the Village. That designation could include a number of guidelines, recommended or required, to preserve Village character.

But Shankle said what they really want is input on the town’s master plan.

“From my perspective, I’m more focused on the future” said Shankle. With plans to update Hooksett’s master plan, “I think any input we can get from the public will be helpful.”

A light supper and refreshments will be offered during both forums. A website has been set up for the forums. It’s A Facebook page has also been created, named HV300.

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