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July 31. 2013 8:35PM

Nashua officials eye Millyard Chimney for wireless tower

NASHUA — City officials are investigating whether a cellular antenna could potentially be erected on top of the iconic Millyard Chimney, which is in need of nearly $1 million in restoration work.

"We are looking into it," Mayor Donnalee Lozeau told the Board of Public Works last week.

Not far from Nashua, there are two millyard smokestacks in North Chelmsford, Mass., that have cellular antennas. A Cellular One antenna is stationed above Aprile's European Restaurant, formerly known as Bainbridge's Restaurant, while an AT&T antenna is housed across the street on top of a similar smokestack above office buildings.

Alderman-at-Large Mark Cookson questioned whether a potential cell tower at Nashua's Millyard Chimney is feasible, as it could be a potential revenue generator for the city. The cellular provider may even help maintain the chimney structure, he added.

"It really depends on whether or not there is a need for a tower in that area," said Lozeau. "I think it is a creative thing worth looking at."

John Vancor, project manager for the Broad Street Parkway, said the possibility is being investigated, but a discussion must be had with representatives from New Hampshire's Division of Historical Resources to gain their input.

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.

"At this point we don't know what the visual impacts would be, if any," Vancor said of a possible cellular antenna. "I think that would be a key factor."

City and state officials must decide whether it is worth the price-tag to keep the historic chimney standing.

According to Vancor, 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. However, the city has allocated only $650,000 for the total bridge restoration.

The chimney, which city officials hope to keep standing as the Broad Street Parkway is about to begin construction nearby, was shortened by about 15 feet two years ago because of deterioration to the top of the structure. Engineers have since recommended reducing the chimney even farther to about 100 or 150 feet because its strength may not meet state codes.

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.8khoughton@newstote.com


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