City approves new YMCA aquatics facility

Telegraph photo by ADAM URQUHART The YMCA of Greater Nashua is in the process of purchasing Nashua Sports Academy at 90 Northwest Blvd. with the goal of constructing an aquatics facility.

NASHUA – The YMCA of Greater Nashua aims to fill a coverage gap in the northwest part of the city with a new aquatics facility.

During the Thursday Nashua Planning Board meeting, civil engineer representing the YMCA Tom Zajac of Hayner/Swanson Inc. said this new aquatics center will include a clubhouse building, an outdoor pool and splash pad, and accompanying parking and site improvements. He went before the board seeking site plan approval, and after providing a brief overview of the project, the motion passed.

The center will go in at 90 Northwest Blvd. where the Nashua Sports Academy is located, housing basketball courts, an indoor turf field, batting cages, locker rooms and bathrooms. The total site area is approximately 8.7 acres.

“The YMCA is seeking to purchase the existing indoor sports facility and then to construct a new outdoor aquatics center,” Zajac said. “Both the indoor and outdoor facilities would be available for use by members of the YMCA of Greater Nashua, along with the Y’s existing facilities both in Nashua and Merrimack. The facility would fill a current coverage gap in the northwest part of Nashua and surrounding towns.”

The YMCA’s proposal seeks to add a 23,600-square-foot outdoor aquatics center and a 3,000-square-foot clubhouse building The hours of operation for the existing building to be 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, as well as 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The aquatics center would operate from 8 a.m. to dusk on a seasonal basis.

The aquatics center will be open from around Memorial Day to Labor Day, as New England weather typically allows. The clubhouse will store bathrooms, locker rooms and the pool mechanicals, although the YMCA did request one waiver as part of their application relative to the clubhouse.

“Given the accelerated project schedule and the anticipated timing of construction of the aquatics center, which is not to take place until at least the fall, if not the spring of 2020, the design of the clubhouse building has not yet been completed,” Zajac said. “So, no elevations were available.”

However, as part of that waiver letter, they did provide some sample elevations and a photo from a current YMCA facility in Westborough, Massachusetts, which was provided to give the board an idea of the design intent.

A similar design intent will be followed from that facility, and Zajac said the YMCA is OK with providing elevations for staff review upon completion. He also said the YMCA intends to occupy the existing facility by April 1, or sooner with the goal of construction starting on the aquatics center this fall for to open in summer 2020.

During Zajac’s overview of the project, he underscored two key elements: parking and stormwater. He said the proposed center’s parking demand compares well with the existing facilities in both Merrimack and Nashua. Merrimack has about 228 parking spaces, and Nashua has about 528 parking spaces.

“We’re providing a total of 194 parking spaces on site including the 51 that exist onsite now, which is well above the minimum required of 121 spaces,” Zajac said. “I do want to note there’s an additional 53 overflow parking spaces available to the site on the adjacent Autajon property if needed during peak demand.”

He said when the Nashua Sports Academy was in operation, there was a formal lease with Autajon Packaging Boston Corp., located at 100 Northwest Blvd., and the YMCA has been in discussions to continue that.

“If additional parking is needed in the future, there is room onsite to expand parking toward Northwest Boulevard,” Zajac said.

The site is located within the city’s water supply protection district, and stormwater runoff generated by the project will be directed into the existing stormwater basin located onsite. Zajac said the project is also currently under review with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Alteration of Terrain Bureau as part of that permit process.

However, YMCA of Greater Nashua CEO Mike LaChance said the purchase of the old Nashua Sports Academy is not a done deal just yet.

“As we sit here today, we’re looking at closing on that for mid-March, right around the 15th,” LaChance said.

He said this will be a great asset to the community.

“This will be totally different from anything we have in the organization, or in the area, I guess you could say,” LaChance said.

He said the reason this came about is the result of a detailed market analysis done last spring to identify where the people the YMCA serves are coming from, where they reside, where they work, etc. After the survey, officials identified some gaps. One of those gap areas was in the northwest section of the city heading out toward Amherst and west Merrimack.

LaChance said when the Nashua Sports Academy facility became available, officials believed this would be a great way to serve the community, and serve some individuals who are not currently being served.

“We’re excited about this opportunity to provide this great space to the community and to the members of the Y,” LaChance said.