Moriarty balks at Burke Street

Sole vote against purchases says project getting worse

Staff photo by Don Himsel Property at 141 and 143 Burke Street, Nashua.

NASHUA – When the city decided to purchase the Burke Street property two years ago, Alderman Daniel Moriarty was the lone vote against the purchase.

“It’s a bad idea getting worse,” Moriarty said.

Of course, in 2015, the $4 million purchase was pegged to an estimated $10-15 million renovation. Today, after further study, the redevelopment of the 141 Burke St. property, including a two-story office building for a consolidated Department of Public Works complex and a large garage to house city vehicles and equipment, is estimated to cost closer to $50 million.

“I thought $10 million was too much,” Moriarty said.

Mayor Jim Donchess said the original estimates for the Burke Street redevelopment did not take into account the state of the warehouse. While it was originally thought the structure could be used as a garage for city vehicles, it turns out the building is in need of major work.

“Once we started looking at it in more detail, we learned it was going to cost considerably more than $10 million to $15 million,” Donchess said.

The idea behind the purchase of the property initially started with being able to expand the wastewater treatment plant. Donchess said if the federal government sets new treatment guidelines, as it is expected to do at some point, there will be a need to expand the water treatment plant.

Bringing all of the DPW offices to one location will additionally save the city money, and the office building will have enough room to bring the school department to the location, he said, that will also create savings for the city.

What Nashua does not have, Donchess said, is the money to start the work.

“We don’t have $49 million right now,” Donchess said.

Donchess said the city is looking at plans to phase in the development of the Burke Street property, waiting for the high school construction bonds to be paid off before adding any other large bond to ease the tax burden.

Aside from the cost, Moriarty is skeptical of the need and efficacy of the project. He said there is no pressing need to expand the wastewater treatment plant.

“I haven’t seen anything hard or convincing that has to happen,” Moriarty said.

He also said it is not a good idea to locate all city vehicles in one spot, rather than have the vehicles located in central areas. If the city is going to develop the site, Moriarty wants there to be a careful plan.

“Please, slow down,” Moriarty said.