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Nashua;42.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/novc.png;2014-11-24 04:18:52
Saturday, July 26, 2014

Rural in the city: Lovewell’s Pond area has plenty of green space

EDITOR’S NOTE: Neighborhoods by the Numbers is a six-day series profiling Nashua neighborhoods by digging into economic data. To read previous installments, visit nashuatelegraph.com. Coming Sunday: Conant Road.

To a lot of people outside New Hampshire, the state’s name brings to mind relaxed rural living. ...

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Neighborhoods by the Numbers is a six-day series profiling Nashua neighborhoods by digging into economic data. To read previous installments, visit nashuatelegraph.com. Coming Sunday: Conant Road.

To a lot of people outside New Hampshire, the state’s name brings to mind relaxed rural living.

Many spots in Nashua don’t fit that image, from the busy shopping corridor on Daniel Webster Highway to the tight-packed apartment buildings of French Hill.

But head to Groton Road in the southwest corner of the city, and the stereotypes start looking more accurate. As the tree-shaded road winds past ponds, horse barns and wide-open fields, it starts to look like an entirely different part of the state, far from city living.

David and Linda Gagnon built their house here in 1975. Aside from planes that sometimes fly overhead a bit too close on their way to Pepperell Airport –
“They’re not supposed to fly over the house,” Linda said – they still feel like they’re living on a little piece of country. Out back, there’s the Nashua River Rail Trail and then the river, with plenty of woodsy space in between.

“The grandchildren come over, we’ll go out with them,” David said.

The Gagnons were among the first to live in the neighborhood. In the beginning, David could go hunting right across the street. Now, there are neighbors, but they don’t mind.

For one thing, David is a builder by trade, so he appreciates the boon construction has been to the economy, and for another, it’s still a quiet road, with plenty of space between the houses.

This is Census Tract 114.01, more than 4 square miles of land stretching from the Massachusetts border to the cul-de-sac-filled neighborhoods between West Hollis Street and Main Dunstable Road.

The Yudicky Farm Conservation Area and Lovewell’s Pond, along with the rustic campus of The Nature of Things private school, contribute to the green, open feel of the area. It’s the least population
-dense neighborhood in Nashua, with just 1,239 people per square mile. French Hill crowds nearly eight times as many people onto each bit of space.

What population there is in the area is relatively new. Nearly 92 percent of the homes here were built since 1970. With the median household earning $85,000 a year, it isn’t the most affluent part of the city, but it’s far wealthier than the city-center neighborhoods.

Nichole Campbell, who has lived with her family on Whitford Road near Main Dunstable Elementary School for eight years, said they bought their home partly because of how widely the houses in the neighborhood are spaced out. Like the
Gagnons, she said they also like the nearby trails through the woods.

“Those are great,” she said. “We always go on the bikes or Rollerblades, or run.”

The city is working to preserve open space in the area, making a deal with The Nature of Things in June to create a 10½-acre conservation easement off Groton Road while the school expands.

Even in the less rural northern part of the tract, residents say things aren’t too hectic.

Betty and Wayne Bilodeau live on Settlement Way, just off West Hollis Road.

“It’s quiet here, and the neighborhood is very, very nice,” Wayne said.

“Over here, the kids can play in the street,” Betty said.

Tom Hoose, who lives not far from the Bilodeaus at the Ledgewood Hills condominium development, said he and his wife like living in Nashua because of cultural draws such as restaurants and theater groups. They moved from the Amherst area five years ago, in part because they didn’t want to be so far out in the country.

“If you wanted to go shopping or anything, it’s like a 40-minute drive,” Tom said.

But Hoose said the detached condos don’t feel like urban living, either. There’s open space out back and room to garden.

“When they planned this community, it wasn’t like, ‘How many units can we squeeze in?’ ” he said.