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Friday, June 28, 2013

Nashua aldermen weigh Broad Street Parkway costs, future of the historic chimney, during project update

NASHUA – Saving the city’s landmark millyard chimney isn’t going to be cheap.

Broad Street Parkway Project Manager John Vancor said the city had four bids for the chimney restoration work, all of which are over budget and point to several alternatives for the structure. Historically, the chimney was 180 feet tall and while bringing it back to that height is a possibility, Vancor said, there’s also the option to keep it as it is now at 165 feet, or lower it down to 150 or even as low as 120 feet. ...

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NASHUA – Saving the city’s landmark millyard chimney isn’t going to be cheap.

Broad Street Parkway Project Manager John Vancor said the city had four bids for the chimney restoration work, all of which are over budget and point to several alternatives for the structure. Historically, the chimney was 180 feet tall and while bringing it back to that height is a possibility, Vancor said, there’s also the option to keep it as it is now at 165 feet, or lower it down to 150 or even as low as 120 feet.

Vancor told members of the aldermanic Committee on Infrastructure Wednesday night the preference is to maintain the current height of the chimney for a total cost of $762,300, though the initial budget was for $650,000.

Alderman-at-Large Barbara Pressly said she was concerned that while “very capable” historians in Concord were weighing in on this issue, no one locally had offered their input on the project. She asked if the matter would be left up to a Board of Aldermen vote to which Vancor said he was unsure. For the city to receive state and federal funds for the project, the memorandum of agreement may need to be opened back up for further review, he said.

This news came just before Alderman-at-Large Jim Donchess asked Vancor about Tuesday’s Board of Public Works meeting, where Vancor said it may be more costly to finish the project by December 2014 than if the project were extended into the following year or beyond. Vancor said that is still an issue that must be considered.

The Broad Street Parkway project will connect Broad Street to Hollis Street to provide a third crossing over the Nashua River into downtown. The idea has been discussed since at least the 1960s and purports to help many avoid the area of Library Hill and the traffic congestion.

In 2008, the Board of Aldermen approved a $37.6 million bond to launch the project. Total figures peg the project at costing $68.1 million in all – and in 2011, the city began demolition work in the Millyard area.

At Tuesday night’s Board of Public Works meeting, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau she was concerned whether finishing the project on time, in December, would actually cost the city more money in the end. Vancor said a fast-paced project means more risk, and that can drive contractors’ bids up.

Tuesday night, the public works commissioners also approved $61,959.12 for Hartgen Archeological Associates, Inc., to review the “Nashua manufacturing historic district” area. Vancor said because the project’s size and direction has changed, this area was not reviewed for archeological finds beforehand so that must be now done before construction starts. Vice Chairman of the Board of Public Works Timothy Lavoie joked, “Let’s hope we don’t find any fossils.”

The board at that time also approved an amount not to exceed $65,000 for architectural design in that district.

On Wednesday, Pressly asked at the end of the update provided by Vancor whether large vehicles would also be allowed to drive on the parkway, since it was originally intended to be a more scenic route. Vancor said at this time, he has not heard of any limitations.

In public comment, former alderman Paula Johnson urged aldermen to be cautious about spending for this project – she said one or two little changes can amount to millions of dollars in costs.

“I would ask you really keep a close eye on this project so it doesn’t cost us more,” she said.

Samantha Allen can be reached at 594-6426 or sallen@nashua
telegraph.com. Also follow Allen
on Twitter (@Telegraph_SamA).