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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Trees cleared from Parcel F, Nashua, April 11, 2012.
  • Nashua residents have opposed the development of a 33-acre parcel at 200 Concord St. in Nashua that sits on Pennichuck Water Works land. North Concord LLC plans to build a 85-unit elderly housing complex on the site.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Trees cleared from Parcel F, Nashua, April 11, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Trees cleared from Parcel F, Nashua, April 11, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Trees cleared from Parcel F, Nashua, April 11, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Trees cleared from Parcel F, Nashua, April 11, 2012.
Thursday, April 12, 2012

Board’s vote against Parcel F purchase seals land’s fate

NASHUA – As trees come down on Concord Street, making way for senior housing on Parcel F, aldermen buried the legislation that would have allowed the city to buy the land and perhaps save it from development.

In an 8-6 vote Tuesday night, the Board of Aldermen voted to indefinitely postpone a resolution that would have bonded $4.85 million to buy the area that was considered the last piece of raw, developable Pennichuck property in Nashua.

Tuesday’s decision essentially kills the legislation and closes the book on the city’s efforts to try and purchase the land.

“This is the end of the road for Parcel F,” Alderman-at-Large David Deane said Tuesday. “We failed as a board. I don’t know if anybody’s gone up there, but take a ride by and take a good hard look.”

The resolution was the last glimpse of the city’s negotiations with North Concord Street Properties LLC developer Kevin Slattery, who bought the 33 acres from Pennichuck Corp. and real estate subsidiary Southwood Corp. in a $2.2 million deal just two days before the city closed on acquiring the water company in January.

Slattery will build an 85-unit elderly housing complex on the property called Hayden Green.

Voting in favor of indefinite postponement were Aldermen-at-Large Lori Wilshire and Brian McCarthy, and Aldermen Rick Dowd, Ward 2; Mary Ann Melizzi-Golja, Ward 8; Paul Chasse, Ward 6; June Caron, Ward 7; Diane Sheehan, Ward 3; and Kathy Vitale, Ward 1.

Voting against were Deane, Aldermen-at-Large Jim Donchess, Mark Cookson and Barbara Pressly, and Aldermen Art Craffey, Ward 4; and Dan Moriarty, Ward 9.

Ward 5 Alderman Mike Tabacsko was absent.

Over the past month and a half, aldermen have debated whether to put up almost $5 million to meet Slattery’s bottom-line asking price to buy back the land.

For some, trying to buy the property to protect the nearby watershed represented the city’s purpose for acquiring Pennichuck, after Southwood sold and helped develop hundreds of acres in north Nashua and Merrimack over the past few decades.

More than 100 residents have protested Parcel F’s sale since last June, citing fears of environmental hazards with the development.

But many city officials and environmental experts disagreed that Hayden Green poses any threat to the city’s drinking water.

After the most recent public hearing on the $4.85 million bond proposal, the Budget Committee decided narrowly against the resolution in a 4-3 vote.

On Tuesday, a number of residents criticized the board for failing to come up with the money to buy Parcel F, describing the cutting and clearing of trees in the area over the past week.

“The 6.5 million-gallon water tank that President McCarthy said would never be seen from Henri Burque highway, you go down Henri Burque, you look left or right … and you see this monstrosity,” said resident Geoff Daly, who has led the public charge against the land sale. “We were assured it would never be exposed.”

“I have before me pictures here of the total devastation, the scorched earth that Mr. Slattery has done to this parcel,” said Tracy Dye, who lives at the Clovelly Apartments abutting Parcel F. “From last April 2 until now, you can clearly see what has been done. Shame on you.”

North Concord Street Properties legal counsel Brad Westgate informed aldermen last week that Slattery was no longer in a position to sell Parcel F, but a number of aldermen said Tuesday that they could still not turn their backs on trying to get the land back.

“I realize the situation, but I’m still going to vote against the motion for indefinite postponement because I think it was a mistake not to buy the parcel,” Donchess said.

He said the $2.2 million that the developer paid Pennichuck for the land could’ve been put toward the city’s purchase, now that Nashua owns the water company.

Donchess added that another $1 million in closing costs from the Pennichuck transaction could have been used toward that effort, which has come to light in the city’s recent efforts to buy some different land: three West Hollis Street properties fronting the city’s landfill, which Mayor Donnalee Lozeau has proposed could one day house the city’s consolidated Public Works facilities.

Another resident, former Alderman Dan Richardson, used Lozeau’s proposal to argue that Parcel F would have been worth spending $4.85 million to save, if the city was considering spending $650,000 to buy 3.4 acres abutting the dump.

“It’s astounding to me,” Richardson said. “I don’t know what to say that other than where are our priorities?”

For some, the priority of keeping Parcel F as conservation land was simply not shared by the majority of the board, they said.

“I feel that we should have taken action much earlier, and it’s a very sad day for the whole North End, for Wards 2 and 3,” Pressly said.

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashua Follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).