HOLDERNESS — A local committee envisions building a walking bridge over the Pemigewasset River at Livermore Falls, and some financial help may be on the way to make it a reality.
The state has negotiated a settlement in which a local wind power company would donate $150,000 to the Livermore Falls project.
Friends of the Pemi: Livermore Falls Chapter has been studying way to improve and enhance the falls for public use. One idea was building the new bridge next to the historic Pumpkin Seed Bridge.
“We are trying to make safe passage across the river, and though it’s a rite of passage for young people to use the old bridge, it’s very dangerous there now,” said Shelagh Connelly, a Holderness selectman and a member of the chapter, which is sponsored by the Plymouth Rotary.
Iberdrola Renewables’ Groton Wind LLC wind-energy plant has agreed to give the committee $150,000 as part of a settlement with the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.
The Livermore Falls area is a set of waterfalls, cliffs and beaches along the river below the old Pumpkin Seed Bridge in the towns of Campton, Plymouth and Holderness. It is recognized as a site of historical significance because of its beautiful geology.
The friends group has been working since 2013 to come up with plans to protect the falls area and make it safer and more pleasurable to use, rather than a trouble spot for police. Local police say they make many arrests in summer months at the falls, mostly charging students from area schools with alcohol-related crimes, and authorities say at least 10 people have died at the falls in the past few decades.
The falls area, which is owned by the state, is framed by the historically important Pumpkin Seed Bridge, which was erected in 1886 and closed in 1959. The bridge is now too dangerous to cross.
Last week, the friends group learned about the settlement. But friends group members aren’t counting on the money yet, as the settlement still needs approval from the SEC.
“But that’s huge news for us,” said Holderness Town Administrator Walter Johnson. “Getting that much money will allow us to accelerate the things we want to do at the site, though we will still need to raise more money.”
Johnson said a bridge over the river is one of many proposals the group is considering. Some have suggested making the area a state park, for instance.
The friends group will meet with state officials in the coming weeks to get more information about the settlement, Connelly said.