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Monday, July 28, 2014

Nashua Neighborhoods: Smooth town-gown relations around Rivier

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

Like the neighboring Kinsey Street area, Nashua’s Census tract 110, the area around Rivier University and the Nashua Country Club, is a neighborhood in the middle. Covering much of South Main Street and the northernmost part of Daniel Webster Highway – and stretching east just past East Dunstable Road – it’s near, but not in, the city center. The homes here were built up much more recently than French Hill or the Tree Streets but much longer ago than the outer neighborhoods to the north and south. In fact, nearly half of homes here were built between 1940 and 1970. ...

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

Like the neighboring Kinsey Street area, Nashua’s Census tract 110, the area around Rivier University and the Nashua Country Club, is a neighborhood in the middle. Covering much of South Main Street and the northernmost part of Daniel Webster Highway – and stretching east just past East Dunstable Road – it’s near, but not in, the city center. The homes here were built up much more recently than French Hill or the Tree Streets but much longer ago than the outer neighborhoods to the north and south. In fact, nearly half of homes here were built between 1940 and 1970.

Area residents’ income levels are higher than average, but the median household income of $81,541 is still well below the $100,000-plus levels found in a couple of South Nashua neighborhoods. It’s in the middle in terms of education, as well. Forty percent of adults here never went to college, but 32 percent have a bachelor’s degree or more.

What most differentiates Census Tract 110 from the rest of the city is Rivier University itself. In this tract, more than 16 percent of adults, nearly 700 people total, are college or graduate school students. And yet the kind of town-gown conflict often found around college campuses seems wholly absent from the neighborhood, which residents say is quite peaceful.

“You’d never even know that there’s a college here,” said Meghan McCarthy, who lives just off campus.

McCarthy is a Rivier alumna herself, and on a warm spring day she was at the university’s fitness center signing up her 8-year-old son for basketball camp while her daughter played nearby. She said she and her husband moved to their home years ago partly because it’s a less expensive area than the North End, where other members of her family live. Now, she said, they like the easy access to both downtown and Route 3, as well as the neighborhood itself.

“It’s a very family-centric neighborhood,” she said.

Founded in Hudson in 1933, Rivier moved to its current location in 1941, a move that helped preserve green space and trees on its 68 acres when the post-World War II housing boom hit Nashua a few years later. Nashua Country Club, which has been next door since 1916, also helps ensure that this part of town isn’t as densely built up as some other neighborhoods.

Dee Stiles lives in Amherst but often stops at Rivier just to stop and take a walk in the middle of her day, which she spends driving around the region as a courier. She also attended the college once, and she likes to walk up and down the campus hills, sometimes stopping to talk to one of the nuns who work at the Catholic school.

“I just have a soft spot for it, and it’s a beautiful and safe environment,” she said.

Kalida and Prema Porika also like to walk in the campus area. They’ve been living down the street for a decade, they said, and they’ve always liked the neighborhood. Prema said she’s sometimes bothered by teenagers elsewhere in the area shouting and honking horns, but never on campus, where she says the students “look like good, clean kids.” Kalida added that he appreciates seeing security guards routinely patrolling the campus.

If local residents are happy with the university’s students, the students are pleased with the neighborhood as well, according to Caitlyn Perry, a nursing student who wrapped up her freshman year this spring.

“It’s very nice,” she said. “It’s actually quiet.”

While more than 400 students live on campus, Perry said she lives close by, near Bishop Guertin High School. She said the school’s students generally like the proximity to downtown, particularly the easy access to Shaw’s and CVS, and they also often head to the Pheasant Lane Mall. Even closer by, Hayward’s Ice Cream is a popular destination just yards from campus.

“Everyone goes there all the time,” Perry said.