NASHUA — It could cost the city nearly $1 million to restore the iconic Millyard Chimney to its original height.
A bid for the restoration work was revealed this week, prompting city officials to decide whether it is worth the price tag to keep the historic structure standing.
John Vancor, project manager for the Broad Street Parkway, told aldermen that International Chimney of Buffalo, N.Y, estimates it will cost about $921,700 to restore the aging chimney to its previous height of 180-feet. The chimney was shortened by about 15 feet two years ago because of deterioration at the top of the structure. However, engineers have since recommended reducing the chimney even further to about 100 or 150 feet because it may not meet state codes.
"I certainly would like to see it restored, but it is not for me to say if we should exceed the budget," said Vancor, adding $650,000 was previously allocated for the bridge restoration. About $40,000 of that has already been spent.
International Chimney offered several alternatives to the project, which include restoring the height to 180 feet, keeping it at the current height of 165 feet or lowering it to 150 or 120 feet. The cost estimates range from $674,000 to nearly $922,000 for the tallest height.
"I think it is a fascinating structure to begin with," said Alderman-at-Large David Deane, noting there is a lot of vertical cracking throughout the brickwork. The chimney, added Deane, looks a bit odd standing by itself now that the surrounding Boiler House has been razed to make way for the parkway.
Despite the high price estimates for the restoration work, Vancor said the aldermanic Committee on Infrastructure that the Broad Street Parkway is currently under budget by about $3 million. He said the original budget of $67.3 million is now actually closer to $64.3 million.
In order to save the failing chimney, the interior circular liner of bricks will need to be removed before steel or fiber reinforcements are put in place, Vancor said.
The city has owned the chimney since 1991. Alderman-at-Large James Donchess submitted a proposed resolution to his fellow board members more than a year ago, asking that the chimney be preserved and either maintained at its current height or restored to its previous height of 180 feet. His resolution was unanimously approved in April 2012, although the cost of the project was just revealed this week.
The Millyard chimney is part of the system that powered the mills with steam about a century ago. The Millyard — including its chimney — has been recognized by the National Register of Historic Places because of its start in 1826.
Vancor said he is meeting with representatives from the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources and the state Department of Transportation to review this matter further on June 13.
"We really want to move as quick as we can," added Vancor, stressing no decision has been made on which alternative to pursue.
If the tallest height is selected, the chimney, which has the word 'MILLYARD' written vertically downward on the structure, the chimney's top will be about 15 feet above the letter 'M.' However, if the shortest length of 120-feet is chosen, the chimney's top will end at the letter 'A,' Vancor said.