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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nashua considering $400K investment in conservation trails

NASHUA – City officials are weighing a major investment in Nashua’s network of outdoor walking trails that will create new paths through the Terrell Homestead and other conservation areas in Nashua’s southwest quadrant.

Over the last few months, the Conservation Commission has been developing plans to upgrade existing trails and construct new ones from Gilson Road through the Terrell parcels, as well as around Lovewell’s Pond and up to Buckmeadow Road. ...

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NASHUA – City officials are weighing a major investment in Nashua’s network of outdoor walking trails that will create new paths through the Terrell Homestead and other conservation areas in Nashua’s southwest quadrant.

Over the last few months, the Conservation Commission has been developing plans to upgrade existing trails and construct new ones from Gilson Road through the Terrell parcels, as well as around Lovewell’s Pond and up to Buckmeadow Road.

The Conservation Commission voted June 17 to recommend using money from the city’s Conservation Fund for a $400,000 trail-building plan. The money comes from land-use change fees paid by developers over the years.

Members of the aldermanic Budget Review and Planning and Economic Development committees voted to recommend the trail proposal this week after hearing from Conservation Commission Chairman Michael Gallagher.

On Tuesday, Gallagher said the commission was tasked by Mayor Donnalee Lozeau with identifying conservation land to expand Nashua’s passive recreation areas.

With development continuing throughout the city, Gallagher said conservation trails offer Nashua residents an opportunity to experience nature inside the confines of New Hampshire’s second-largest city.

“Also, we all know that Mine Falls is very heavily used – some may argue overused,” Gallagher said, explaining that the new trails being proposed might present more of a challenge to hikers than the paths available elsewhere in the city.

The Terrell Homestead Conservation Area consists of more than 80 acres adjacent to the Groton Woods Conservation Easement and near Yudicky Farm, Lovewell’s Pond and the large Dunstable Land Trust in Massachusetts. It features vernal pools, a mix of wetlands and uplands, old-growth forests, and edge and field habitats.

Albert and Rita Terrell sold two tracts of their family property dating back to the Revolutionary War era to the city in 2011 and 2012 for $700,033 and $512,318, respectively. It was sold to be saved as city conservation land and used for passive recreation.

In recent years, the city’s Conservation Fund topped $3 million. It currently stands at about $2.2 million, although some money already has been earmarked for work at the Terrell parcels, Gallagher said.

Supporting the latest $400,000 proposal would bring the fund down to about $1.4 million – enough to continue to acquire some of the potential conservation properties on the commission’s wish list, Gallagher said.

“This allows for us to take into consideration some of our targeted properties within the city,” he said.

The proposal calls for two new parking lots to alleviate some of the pressure at the existing parking area on Gilson Road, which is heavily used.

Gallagher said the Terrell property will be designated a no-hunting zone, and the commission would set aside about $15,000 a year for maintenance of the new trails.

The proposal is set to move next to the aldermanic Committee on Infrastructure before returning to the full Board of Aldermen for a decision.

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).