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Nashua, hospital close to settling parking dispute

Union Leader Correspondent

August 05. 2013 7:40PM

NASHUA — The city’s legal counsel has drafted two tentative lease agreements that may resolve an ongoing dispute over city land being used by a local hospital for overflow parking.

On Wednesday, the aldermanic Finance Committee will review a proposal to have the city enter into two lease agreements with Southern New Hampshire Medical Center.

The agreements, if approved, will enable the hospital to continue leasing a city-owned parking lot behind CVS pharmacy on Main Street, in addition to leasing a parking lot next to the former Dartmouth-Hitchcock medical building at the corner of East Hollis Street and Medical Center Drive.

Last fall, a dispute erupted over the hospital’s parking situation when a proposed resolution was made requesting that the nearby CVS pharmacy lease the parking property already being rented by the hospital.

As a compromise, the newest lease agreement being recommended by Stephen Bennett, deputy corporation counsel, will enable the hospital to continue leasing the 80-spot parking lot, but CVS will be permitted to sublease parking spaces from the hospital.

“This agreement is intended to provide Southern New Hampshire Medical Center with the opportunity to expand its campus to accommodate additional patient services while ensuring that CVS can redevelop its site to upgrade its facility to better serve its customers,” Bennett said in a memo to the Finance Committee.

In return, the city will allow the hospital to lease, with annual increments of $24,000, the former Dartmouth-Hitchcock parking lot, which Bennett said will offset the parking spaces that will be subleased to CVS at the other city parking lot.

Southern New Hampshire Medical Center has been leasing the other city-owned parking lot behind CVS for about 25 to 30 years. That parking is important to the hospital because it is housed at the north entrance of the hospital facility and is used by many outpatients on a daily basis, a hospital spokesperson said recently.

If the two new agreements are approved, the hospital can enter into a new, 15-year lease agreement to rent the same parking lot for $48,000 a year, according to Bennett’s memo.

“The agreement contains a provision that the property may be purchased during the term of this agreement by Southern New Hampshire Medical Center for a price of $720,000 with credit for all rental fees paid pursuant to the agreement,” according to the memo. “This option to purchase is conditioned upon Southern New Hampshire Medical Center obligating itself to redeveloping the property with the construction of a multi-story parking garage, medical office building or similar improvements.”

Representatives from the city, CVS and Southern New Hampshire Medical Center have been meeting since last fall to resolve the parking issue. Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said previously that various options were being explored to remedy the situation.

In April, it was revealed that the hospital is planning to build a new parking lot on Prospect Street, but still had hopes of leasing the city-owned parking lot also being sought by CVS.

The property at 20 Prospect St. was purchased with the intention of converting it into a parking lot that would connect with an existing parking lot near Lamprey Health Care, Scott Cote, chief information officer for the hospital, said earlier this year.

That parking lot is adding about 35 to 40 parking spaces to be used primarily by hospital staff, therefore freeing up other parking spots for patients, Cote said previously.

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