Officials looking to build new boat ramp

NASHUA – The existing Greeley Park boat ramp is in rough shape, but city officials are expecting a new ramp to be under construction by summer.

“Right now, there is nothing. There is a dirt road through the woods and a dirt area,” Nashua Community Development Director Sarah Marchant said. “People generally park between trees and where they can.”

So, in improving access to the Merrimack River for both public and emergency personnel use, a total of 24 spaces will be added, – 12 for cars with rooftop kayaks and canoes and 12 for boat trailers. There will also be a handicap-accessible ramp, while there is talk of re-routing the access road, all while maintaining a natural aesthetic. One trailer and one car space will be made accessible for vans.

Other project goals include rerouting stormwater outfall, in addition to resurfacing and potentially regrading the boat ramp. Marchant and contract engineer Kevin Gagne presented the new ramp’s preliminary design Wednesday during a joint meeting with the Committee on Infrastructure and Planning & Economic Development Committee. Marchant believes the existing ramp was built back in the 1970s.

“It is not equipped for today’s boats and trailers,” Marchant said. “It’s not a good ramp for emergency access and this is the only emergency access point to the Merrimack River in Nashua.”

She said firefighters use this ramp, but need much better access to get to the river. Gagne believes similarly in that this is the primary location at which first responders can get watercraft onto the river if and when a water rescue is required. Marchant said the city’s Division of Public Works has been a partner in development, as the ramp has been in the planning stages for several years.

From 2002 to 2007, New Hampshire Fish and Game officials made plans to improve the existing ramp. However, uncertainty regarding the status of the railroad crossing that divides Greeley Park from this public access point to the river resulted in delays.

Later, the Lower Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee began advocating for improvements to the boat ramp and public access to the river in this area. In 2016, an application was done for a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant.

After petitioning the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to resolve the railroad crossing issue, an agreement was then made in early 2017 with the railroad.

That LWCF grant was awarded in 2017 for a project total of $400,000. Half of this would come from the grant itself, with the city matching the equal portion.

Now, city leaders are seeking a request for proposal for engineering, design and permitting.

“We’re going to go into final engineering after this and put bids out this winter and early spring,” Marchant said.

Additionally, Marchant said there is a plan to turn the old dirt trail into a pedestrian trail, as well as to make sure signage is posted to direct people where to go.

Gagne said the plan includes placing a gate at the meeting point of the existing road nad the new road, but for the former to remain available for emergency access and as the foot trail.

The curfew for using the boat ramp will be dawn to dusk. However, people can’t get to the boat ramp from Greeley Park, and Marchant said the access point for the ramp is located down Hills Ferry Road.

Moreover, Gagne said, “The only wetland impact on the site is the area where the ramp itself meets the water, so it’s quite a small footprint of impact.”

The measure passed the joint meeting with the Committee on Infrastructure and Planning & Economic Development Committee.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206, or at