Hooksett grant to establish heritage district
Though the exact boundaries of the area have yet to be determined, but Town Administrator Dean Shankle said the creation of a heritage district is intended to protect the charm and appeal of the village, as well as to create a simulating and vibrant neighborhood.
The district will include the Old Town Hall as well as Robie’s Country Store, a National Historic Landmark.
Hooksett was one of 22 communities selected from a field of 32 applicants for the award. Out of the almost $830,000 collectively sought by the municipalities, New Hampshire Housing awarded over $550,000 in grant money in total.
The money comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Challenge program, which encourages the creation of communities that are both affordable and economically viable. Under the program, $28 million dollars in grant money was distributed among 27 state and local agencies nationwide, including New Hampshire Housing, a public corporation that helps New Hampshire residents obtain affordable housing.
Other communities to receive funding were Amherst, Brookline, Dover, Dunbarton, Enfield, Farmington, Goffstown, Greenfield, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Keene, Laconia, Lebanon, Manchester, Milford, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Rindge, Salisbury, Seabrook, and Temple.
However, Hooksett is the only town planning to use its grant money to finance the creation of a heritage district, Shankle said. The establishment of Hooksett’s heritage district will serve as a pilot program to guide future grant recipients.
Shankle said most of the money will be used to hire consultants with professional expertise in areas like landscaping design, to make sure the project is done right. The historic preservation work will serve as early steps toward gearing up for the town’s bicentennial in 2023.
“It allows us to start building a database of what people want to see preserved in that area,” Shankle said.
Although the grant is intended to finance the creation of the heritage district, Shankle said a more valuable result is the potential for the project to unite Hooksett residents.
“The foundation it’s building is going to be great, no matter what,” he said. “When we wrote this grant, a big part of it was getting the community involved. The idea is to work with the people as much as possible.”
Other funded projects statewide include the development of mixed-use and multi-family housing overlay zones in village centers; downtown infill ordinances; form-based codes; building codes that focus on energy efficiency; conservation subdivision ordinances; corridor planning for areas of heavy commercial and automobile activity.
This is New Hampshire Housing’s first round of community planning grants. A second installment of awards will be made later this year, focusing on municipalities that wish to create neighborhood heritage districts or promote affordable housing via zoning ordinances.
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