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  • Image courtesy: City's GIS map.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    The City of Nashua is considering acquiring three pieces of property near the Four Hills Landfill. Seen here is one of those properties, Rick's Autocare at 836 W. Hollis St in Nashua.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    The City of Nashua acquired three pieces of property near the Four Hills Landfill. Seen here is 844 W. Hollis St in Nashua, which will be demolished in a Nashua Fire Rescue training burn.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    The City of Nashua is considering acquiring three pieces of property near the Four Hills Landfill. Seen here is one of those properties, 848 W. Hollis St in Nashua.
Thursday, March 29, 2012

City of Nashua eyes purchase of three West Hollis Street properties to combine public works facilities

NASHUA – Trestle Brook residents may soon have new neighbors – or rather, more neighbors – in the city.

On Wednesday, the Infrastructure Committee reviewed a resolution to appropriate $650,000 to purchase three West Hollis Street parcels fronting the city landfill for use by the Public Works Department.

The city is looking to acquire 836, 844 and 848 W. Hollis St., which are just outside the landfill entrance. Combined, they make up approximately 3.4 acres and are assessed at $889,500.

According to Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, the acquired parcels could be the location for the city’s future consolidated public works offices and garages.

“Right now, they’re scattered,” Lozeau said. “So it’s an opportunity to bring them all under one roof. … There are efficiencies that you can’t necessarily measure, if all the foremen, and all the superintendents are in the same building. It’s much easier to work as a division.”

The committee ended up tabling the resolution, pending an ongoing discussion with Lozeau about the plans.

Most of the aldermen at the meeting voiced support for the acquisition, but Alderman-at-Large Jim Donchess said he wanted to see a more complete plan of the long-term vision before he could support spending $650,000 to buy the three parcels. He also cited concerns that other city needs may be underfunded.

“I don’t think we can look at the cutbacks of the Police Department as no problem, and something that can just be balanced out,” Donchess said. “If we cannot provide safety to our schools and our downtown … to me that means we don’t have any money for new things.”

Ward 9 Alderman Dan Moriarity also questioned whether the city could afford to buy the parcels, as the city has recently bonded over a million dollars for fire truck purchases, among other bonds.

Lozeau said the city is investing in its infrastructure properly and has been using the right balance of cash and bonds. She urged the aldermen to focus on the short-term goal of acquiring the parcels, before tackling the costs associated with the long-term vision.

Five hundred thousand dollars has been proposed for appropriation from the city’s “Pennichuck Acquisition Fund” to purchase 836 and 844 W. Hollis St. from the Docos Family Revocable Trust of 2009, according to the resolution.

Another $150,000 has been proposed for appropriation from the fiscal 2012 general contingency fund to buy 848 W. Hollis St. from Robert and Gail Brown of Indiantown, Fla.

Lozeau said the city could acquire the properties for about $200,000 less than their combined assessed values, and at almost half what their original market prices were when the property owners first approached the city about selling the land.

“It was on the market for $1.2 million for two of the parcels, so to be in a position to be looking at buying three of the parcels for half that price, I think is a good thing,” Lozeau said.

The resolution to acquire the parcels was first introduced as new business at the aldermen’s meeting March 13. The Infrastructure and the Planning Board will review the resolution April 12 before the full board votes on it. To pass, it will require 10 votes in favor.

At a March 15 Trestle Brook Neighborhood Crime Watch meeting, Lozeau and Alderman Mike Tabacsko, who represents the neighborhood, shared the plans with residents.

Tabacsko said the few who attended the meeting were “very amenable” to the idea of the city offices moving in.

In years past, commercial developers eyed the parcels for a 10,000-square-foot convenience store and gas station, Tabacsko said, and stirred some neighborhood backlash in the process.

“They had protested the idea of commercial use,” he said. With the city’s acquisition of the land, “The one question that came up was, ‘What does that do about additional traffic?’”

Tabacsko said the DPW offices and garage would bring some additional city trucks moving in and out of the neighborhood, but that the traffic would compare to the garbage trucks transferring trash to the city landfill each day.

“The people seemed to be comforted by the idea that the city has been a good neighbor from the landfill side of things,” he said.

Lozeau has emphasized that the plan to move the public works offices is only a long-term plan for the site, which the city could look to complete two years – or 20 years – down the road.

One bonus Tabacsko and Lozeau have cited with the plan is the opportunity to allow Conway Arena to expand into a second ice rink.

If the city acquired the parcels to move street and traffic department offices and garages out of Stadium Drive, it would clear the space Conway needs to tackle that goal, Lozeau said.

Conway Arena general manager Gary Warriner did not return The Telegraph’s calls for comment Wednesday.

The cost analysis for bringing Nashua’s departments together is still underway, Lozeau said, but she estimated the city would need to bond about $15 million over a number of years to do it. That analysis should be complete in a few months, she said.

Lozeau said the Board of Public Works has discussed the consolidation plans recently in a nonpublic session. The minutes will be unsealed at their next meeting, she said. The plans also were discussed publicly at an aldermanic committee meeting two years ago, Lozeau said, and former Public Works director George Crombie suggested it as a possible option in the past.

She said she hopes to have the purchase-and-sales agreements approved by aldermen, and the sales closed, by early May.

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashuatelegraph.com.