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Committee supports large conservation easement in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

June 04. 2014 11:12PM

NASHUA — City conservation officials have discussed the possibility of acquiring a large, undeveloped piece of property in the southwest corner of the city for more than 15 years — a purchase that may now be possible.

This week, the aldermanic Planning and Economic Development Committee supported a recommendation to acquire a conservation easement for 10.5 acres of land along Groton Road.

The easement, at a cost of $337,500, would be funded through an existing conservation fund.

“There is no fiscal impact to the taxpayers,” said Alderman Michael Soucy, Ward 5, adding there is a lot of value to keeping the area rural.

The Nature of Things school is planning to purchase the large, adjacent parcel of property at 9 Groton Road, which would be used for educational purposes. The total price of the 17.3-acre property — $675,000 — could be cut in half if the Board of Aldermen approves the proposed acquisition of a 10.5-acre conservation easement on the site.

“It has been a goal to get the back end of that (parcel) for quite some time,” said Alderman-at-Large Brian McCarthy, noting the property has been on a conservation list for potential acquisitions since the late 1990s.

Michael Gallagher, chairman of the Nashua Conservation Commission, said the land immediately abuts Yudicky Park in Ward 5. While the city already owns existing conservation land nearby, there are interconnected trails leading to the proposed acquisition site that make it desirable, he said.

“It is kind of the remaining puzzle piece of developable land,” said Gallagher, stressing the city is nearly all developed with just a few rural areas left to preserve. “We see the value in having this easement.”

There is currently $2.2 million in the city’s conservation fund that could be utilized for the $337,500 purchase of the conservation easement, according to the proposal.

The private, environmental-science school intends to use about 6 acres of the land for educational purposes, according to Denis Gleeson, who owns the school with his wife, Deborah Gleeson. They plan to farm the property and expand the school facility, he said.

“We are really excited about this,” he added.

The Nature of Things school offers preschool through eighth-grade learning opportunities on a 22-acre farm site spanning from Nashua into Dunstable, Mass. About 19 acres of the school’s property is undeveloped, and was the state’s first LEED platinum commercial building in New Hampshire.

McCarthy described the corridor from Nashua into Dunstable, Mass., as a “tremendous greenway,” saying it is important to preserve that area.

The full Board of Aldermen will now consider the proposed easement acquisition being recommended by the committee.

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