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  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS


    A sign denoting St. Stanislaus Pulaski Park at 61 Pine Hill Road is seen from Pine Hill Road in Nashua, Tuesday afternoon. The park was recently sold to Nashua developer Randy Tremel for $600,000.
Sunday, April 15, 2012

Demolition, development to begin on senior housing at former Pulaski Park in North Nashua

NASHUA – As one park closes in north Nashua, another is set to open in its stead, if only by name.

Work will soon begin on Stinson Park, a 17-unit senior condominium development to be located at 65 Pine Hill Road, wedged between the Nashua Airport and Saint Stanislaus Cemetery, an area formerly known as Pulaski Park.

The 4.9-acre parcel, previously owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, was sold to local real estate developer Randy Turmel for $600,000 last month.

This past October, Turmel got approval from the city Planning Board to move forward with the $3.5 million development, which will include 15 detached condos and two units that will be part of a 3,572-square-foot community building.

The sale closed March 15, according to the city of Nashua’s website.

The development will be open to residents ages 55 and older, hopefully by the fall, Turmel said.

In two to three weeks, demolition will begin on a 6,000-square-foot building on the parcel, Turmel said, while another structure, a former function hall, will be converted as part of Stinson Park’s future community building.

Pulaski Park once had been a popular spot for picnics and church functions held by Saint Aloysius of Gonzaga Parish.

According to city assessing records, in 1913 the Roman Catholic Bishop acquired 65 Pine Hill Road, which included a cemetery and a park that had been operated by Saint Stanislaus Church in Nashua for years.

In 2002, Saint Stanislaus’ was unified with Saint Aloysius of Gonzaga along with Saint Francis Xavier. With the merger, the park came under the operation of Saint Aloysius, according to Paul Harrington, secretary for real estate for the Diocese of Manchester. The lot was then subdivided in 2008, separating 4.9 acres from the cemetery.

The parish struggled to come up with the money to maintain the park for years, Harrington said, and the results showed in the dilapidation of the two buildings there.

“It was always fading, as far as I know,” Harrington said. “That’s when we got the call. … There were people sleeping there and kids using it for other things, so it wasn’t too healthy.”

In 2010, St. Aloysius’ then-pastor the Rev. Richard Dion approached the parish’s finance council and parish council to get permission to put the land up for sale, Harrington said, and ultimately got Bishop John McCormack’s approval to sell.

Though the parish had hoped to sell the land for uses other than development, the proposal for the senior housing complex proved to be “a good mix,” Harrington said.

The revenue from the sale will go to Saint Aloysius, Harrington said.

“I think the parish is just happy they’ve got some money coming into their church,” Harrington said. “If you really dug into it, I’m sure there’s probably some people who were upset – but on the whole, we had no calls here, and the Bishop got no letters.”

Current Saint Aloysius pastor the Rev. Marcos Gonzalez-Torres did not return calls from The Telegraph seeking comment.

Nobody spoke against Stinson Park at the Planning Board meeting last October, but minutes show one resident, Donald Doucette, owner of 64 Pine Hill Road, who spoke in favor.

A city planning staff report says 77 percent of the project will remain as open space. An area of wetlands, along with the wetland buffer at the rear of the property, will not be touched. There is also an area of asbestos waste on the land, which was capped under state Department of Environmental Services regulations in the 1990s.

Last year, project engineer Jim Petropulos told the Planning Board that part of the capped area will be disturbed during construction, but it will capped again to meet DES requirements.

In 2010, the Zoning Board of Adjustment had granted a variance that was needed for the plan to move forward. The decision had been appealed by Nashua Airport Authority at the time because the development lies under the approach path for aircraft that will be landing on a new runway under construction at Boire Field, but the situation was ultimately worked out because the condos, not to exceed 20 feet in height, satisfied safety concerns.

“They’re definitely our neighbors,” Turmel said of the Nashua Airport Authority. “There’s no mystery that the airport is nearby, and this project, like many of the other homes in that area, is in the flight path. But that’s absolutely fine, because I was on site yesterday, we heard some planes land, and it’s not an obstacle. It’s not like it’s any commercial planes. It’s small planes.”

Turmel, a Nashua native who has been involved with local real estate sales, land acquisition, subdivision approval and building in Greater Nashua for more than 26 years, said Stinson Park is one of his largest projects to date.

Some of his past projects included involvement with Gilcrest Farms Adult Living Community in Litchfield and Mission Pointe Adult Community in Hudson, he said, as he has been working with senior community developments for more than 10 years.

“You cannot go anywhere in the city of Nashua right now to speak of and buy detached 55 and older condominiums,” Turmel said. “There are many 55 and older condominiums, but they’re mostly … in communities that are age- targeted, not age-restricted.”

Turmel’s development, along with senior housing Hayden Green being built by developer Kevin Slattery on controversial former Pennichuck land known as Parcel F off Concord Street, are the first detached developments in Nashua that are age- restrictive, Turmel said.

“I think for the amount of demand in this marketplace, there’s a lot more demand than people realize,” Turmel said.

Stinson Park will keep the park label in honor of its predecessor, Turmel said, and picks up Stinson from Stinson Lake in the northern part of the state.

“We’re going to make sure our front is extremely well landscaped, inviting and welcoming to people, so I kept the name of the park because of the history of that property,” Turmel said. “It was a very nice setting. By the time we get done, I’ll make sure the residents feel that way as well.”

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

Also, follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).