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Hooksett Council forms committee for SNHU development

HOOKSETT — A new town committee will look into opening up lines of communication with Southern New Hampshire University about its future development plans.

The Town Council established the committee at its Wednesday night meeting. Councilors Don Winterton and Alex Walczyk were appointed to the committee, along with Town Administrator Dean Shankle.

Winterton, who proposed the idea, said the goal is to keep up with the plans for the university.

“They are exploding (with growth),” Winterton said, adding that it’s not entirely clear where that might end.

Over the last couple of years, a handful of projects have been presented to the town’s Planning Board, including the new Monadnock Hall dormitory, a four-story, apartment-style residence hall with 75 apartments that opened in September, and the new College of Engineering, Technology and Aeronautics building that was given conditional approval in November, which will be 80,000 square feet and three stories tall.

There was also a three-month-long construction project this past summer that included installing a traffic signal with crosswalks, left-turn lanes in both directions leading onto East Side Drive and Mountain View Road from North River Road, and lowering the road elevation in front of Ford and Morrissey House to improve traffic sight lines.

Winterton said the committee could also be used to look into further expanding the relationship between the town and SNHU. For example, there could be more internship opportunities for students, or use of SNHU facilities for town groups and organizations.

“I think there’s a whole litany of things that could happen,” he said.

Councilors voiced their support for the group, saying this isn’t the first time the town and university have collaborated like this.

Council Chairman Jim Sullivan, who also serves on the School Board, said SNHU representatives have been helpful in the past with school district matters such as curriculum.

“They've been very receptive to that,” he said, adding that gives him confidence they will be open to these talks as well.

Winterton said he’s already broached the topic with some of the university's leadership and they’ve been receptive to the idea.

“They also thought it would be a good idea to find a way for us to talk,” he said.

It was briefly suggested that they look into whether Manchester has or is looking to start a similar group. Part of the campus, along with the administrative buildings for SNHU, are located in the Queen City.

But Councilors said they wanted to keep Hooksett’s group focused on only the town’s portion.

“We should be protecting our own Hooksett interests,” said Councilor Marc Miville.

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