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Monday, May 7, 2012

Aldermen face $650k W. Hollis Street land acquisition Tuesday for potential Public Works consolidation

NASHUA – A vision to build a consolidated Public Works facility next door to the city landfill may live or die based on an aldermanic vote Tuesday night.

The board will decide whether to spend $650,000 buying 836, 844 and 844 W. Hollis St., 3.4 acres assessed at $889,500, after the proposal garnered favorable recommendations from both the city Planning Board and the Board of Public Works last month.

If the board gives the last green light on the purchase, the parcels could go toward changing the entrance and exit of the city landfill, and adding a buffer between the West Hollis Street neighborhood and the dump.

In the next few years, or perhaps the next decade, the city hopes to use the land for consolidating four Public Works facilities on the site, a project that Mayor Donnalee Lozeau estimates could cost the city another $15 million in bonds.

It is the long-term plan that has put a wrench in the resolution’s otherwise smooth sailing through city boards. The aldermen’s Infrastructure Committee tabled the proposal twice last month, then issued an indefinite postponement of the legislation when some members questioned the details surrounding the Public Works project.

For the resolution to pass Tuesday night, it will require 10 votes.

Lozeau and some aldermen argue that the short-term acquisition of the land, for $200,000 less than its assessed price and almost half its original market price, is worth it on its own merit.

Of the $650,000 proposed, $500,000 would come 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 would come out of the fiscal 2012 general contingency fund to buy 848 W. Hollis St. from Robert and Gail Brown of Indiantown, Fla.

The only Board of Public Works member to vote against the project, Commissioner Tracy Pappas, took issue with using Pennichuck money for the buys.

“As far as the public goes, I think they wanted to acquire Pennichuck because they did not think they were good stewards of the watershed,” Pappas told The Telegraph in April. “So then, to use the money to acquire land near a landfill, I think some people would see that as objectionable.”

Alderman-at-Large Jim Donchess, voting in favor of indefinite postponement, said the city should use the $650,000 to meet greater infrastructure and educational needs in Nashua.

Alderman-at-Large Mark Cookson questioned why the city would consider moving its city’s street garages to West Hollis Street to make way for a second sheet of ice at Conway Ice Arena, as Lozeau and other aldermen have discussed when addressing the benefits of buying the property.

The consolidated facility would include Public Works offices on Riverside Drive, a Parks and Recreation trailer by Greeley Park, another DPW site near Holman Stadium, and the Stadium Drive street offices and garage.

“I believe (the purchase) stands on its own merits just for the ownership of the land,” Lozeau told Infrastructure last week. “Whether we move forward or not, the opportunity is here at a reasonable price, and we’ll have to look at those other things as we move forward.”

Ward 5 Alderman Mike Tabacsko, who represents the West Hollis Street neighborhood, has said area residents were largely welcoming to the idea of Public Works moving in.

Lozeau and Tabacsko first introduced the plan at a March 15 Trestle Brook Neighborhood Crime Watch meeting.

In years past, commercial developers eyed the properties for a 10,000-square-foot convenience store and gas station, resulting in neighborhood protest.

Lozeau has said the cost analysis for bringing Nashua’s Public Works departments together is still underway but should be complete in a few months.

Currently, two homes and a car garage sit on the properties. Lozeau has said the owners, who are Nashua natives, have been trying to sell the property for years and they approached the city specifically for the sale.

There are some environmental issues on at least two of the parcels, Lozeau has said. DES has a file on them and the purchase-and-sales agreements are contingent upon an environmental site assessment report on the conditions effecting the properties.

The purchase-and-sales agreements, made Feb. 14, listed April 30 as the closing date for 836 and 844 W. Hollis while the closing on 848 W. Hollis was not specified. The mayor has said she was willing to try to get an extension on those dates if needed.

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or Also, follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).