Make wise use of $800,000

A grant of nearly $800,000 from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation will help widen sidewalks, plant new trees, turn Lock and Whitney streets into one-way streets flowing traffic in opposite directions, and create bicycle lanes in Nashua’s French Hill neighborhood, community leaders announced Sunday.

The grant represents about 80 percent of the total cost of the proposed $1 million project. The city will cover the remaining $200,000 in costs.

City Board of Aldermen member Patricia Klee said Sunday she had just announced her candidacy when Great American Downtown Executive Director Paul Shea invited her to walk the French Hill streets, telling her the sidewalk-widening project was among city officials’ top priorities.

“I’m just so glad everything came together to make this project happen,” Shea said told our reporter.

City Community Development Director Sarah Marchant said work should begin in late summer or early fall.

“Once things get going, it will probably take about two years to complete,” Marchant said.

Former city economic development director Jay Minkarah, now the head of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, many French Hill children who attend the nearby Mount Pleasant Elementary School will benefit from the project.

The benefits of this project for our city and its residents seem limitless. It is especially helpful that most of the money will come from the state level, rather than only city funds.

Still, we hope city officials do not look at this $800,000 grant as “free money.” After all, the state generates its funds through fees and taxes, with a significant portion of this presumably coming from those in the Greater Nashua area.

We look forward to the improvements this project should bring to the French Hill neighborhood, as well as the city of Nashua as a whole.