HOLDERNESS — The state’s director of historic sites has advised a regional group planning improvements to Livermore Falls to save a very odd-looking piece of history: the historic Pumpkin Seed bridge over the Pemigewasset River just below the falls.
Meanwhile, the Friends of the Pemigewasset: Livermore Falls Chapter is also still waiting for the promised $150,000 gift awarded to the group as part of a remediation settlement between the state and Groton Wind, LLC, said Holderness Town Administrator Walter Johnson.
The Friends group is a regional committee formed to improve the state park at Livermore Falls, which has been both a favorite recreation area for many and a dangerous place, particularly when the river swells in the spring, for high school and college students who have been known to have parties there. At least 10 people have died there in recent history, town police said.
The falls’ rocky shores and beaches lay in Campton, Plymouth and Holderness. The Friends group has already made safety and signage improvements, and had an attendant on site for part of last summer, limiting the need for police or rescue crews substantially, Johnson said.
The committee has been working since 2013 to come up with plans to protect the site and make it safer and more pleasurable to visit. The state, partnering with the group, asked Director of Historic Sites Jeremy Wilson to conduct a study on the site, which has not yet been made public, he said.
Johnson, who has seen the study, says it points to the bridge as historically important. He said the bridge, which was erected in 1886 and closed in 1959, is at present too dangerous to cross.
“They are suggesting that we preserve it and use it again,” he said. “It’s apparently one of the last remaining Pumpkin Seed bridges in the country, and he feels it’s very important.”
Johnson said the bridge would likely be used for foot traffic, not for any kind of motor vehicles. He thinks the repair may be costly, though.
“If we do it, it would take a lot of dollar signs,” he said. “Although functionally, it is said to be in good condition. It could be a pedestrian bridge. It’s something we’ll talk about.”
Also mentioned in the report is the need to preserve what remains of mill buildings on the scene, Johnson said.
As part of a negotiated settlement with the state’s Site Evaluation Committee over a dispute about Groton Wind’s re-siting of its operations and maintenance building during the plant’s construction in 2011, Groton Wind agreed to give a Friends committee trying to improve Livermore Falls $160,000.
Johnson said that money may be forthcoming, but said an SEC meeting next month will determine when the money is coming to the group.