Tree Streets meeting spurs multiple ideas

NASHUA – Mayor Jim Donchess is encouraging anyone who lives, works, attends school, owns property or a business or practices their faith in the Tree Streets neighborhood to help decide how $25,000 should be invested for improvements.

Wednesday night, residents attended an idea-gathering event that was at Nashua PAL, located at 52 Ash St., to learn more about the project Your Voice, Your Choice, and share their vision in-person with the mayor.

Another event is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. on Jan. 16 at Milette Manor, 72 Vine St.

“We have $25,000 of city money which we want to spend to do something good in this neighborhood, but we don’t know the best way to do that,” Donchess said during Wednesday night’s event. “So, what we’re hoping to do is have you, working with NeighborWorks and with PAL, to come up with a group of ideas that would possibly spend $25,000.”

Over the next few months, the city will be gathering project ideas, which will then be turned into proposals that can be voted on, with the winning projects slated to be built within a year.

Donchess initiated the project to engage the residents living in the neighborhood by directing these funds to improve this section of the city. The effort will be based on a concept known as participatory budgeting, in which community members directly influence how to spend a portion of a public budget.

The project operates under a five-step process that will take about four months to complete, including planning and design, idea collection, proposal development, voting and funding and implementation.

Ideas that people have for these future projects are eligible for funding if: They are capital infrastructure project, they are within the boundaries of the Tree Streets neighborhood, they serve the general public and meet the needs of the neighborhood, they are implemented by the city of Nashua or by a nonprofit Nashua organization, they cost between $1,000 and $25,000 per project, they are a one-time expense for the city and they must respect the city’s laws, regulations, policies and action plans.

“This is hopefully the first year of many,” Community Development Director Sarah Marchant said.

People can submit their ideas online at,, by clicking on the submit idea tab. People also can share their ideas by filling out a comment card at the following locations:

Boys & Girls Club – 47 Grand Ave.

Churchside Market – 56 West Hollis Street.

Cibao Kitchen – 128 Ash St.

Crossway Christian Church – 33 Pine St.

Kinsley Street Laundry – 83 ½ Kinsley St.

Nashua Soup Kitchen – 2 Quincy St.

Nashua PAL – 52 Ash St.

Palm Square – 57 Palm St.

Public Library – 2 Court St.

Rescue Mission – 40 Chestnut St.

Saint Louis Church – 48 West Hollis St.

Sally’s Food Mart – 34 Palm St.

YMCA – 24 Stadium Drive.

Some goals and principles driving the project include, empowering neighborhood residents to make decisions on where/how to invest in their neighborhood, foster a sense of unity while inspiring residents to engage in their community and build new relationships and networks that will, in turn, help improve the quality of life in that neighborhood, and encourage transparency by sharing information and making decisions as openly as possible, to name a few.

Furthermore, during the meeting with residents living in the Tree Streets neighborhood, Marchant and Nashua PAL Executive Director Shaun Nelson highlighted ideas that already have been generated. Some of those ideas include, improving neighborhood parks, adding community gardens, installing bike racks, improving the rail trail and more. From there, kids and adults broke out into a brainstorming session where they had a chance to talk amongst others present to come up with their own ideas for what they would like to see come to their neighborhood.

“This is one of those times where there’s literally no bad ideas,” Nelson said.

After a brief brainstorming session, some of what came forward from residents include a playground with a giant slide, shelters for homeless people, picnic tables in neighborhood parks, lights along the bike path and in the neighborhood, to name a few. However, a popular idea that came forward multiple times was to convert the park across the street from the PAL center into some sort of sports park, whether that be a basketball or volleyball court, or the recurring option of turning it into a soccer field.

“This is not the end, this is the beginning of this process,” Nelson said. “So, again, before school vacation in February, we’re going to be voting, so be on the lookout for the where and when on that.”

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206 or