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January 03. 2013 1:42AM

Nashua panel OK's funding for Riverwalk expansion

NASHUA - The evolving Nashua Riverwalk is one step closer to becoming a continuous trail, after an aldermanic committee on Wednesday approved funding for a new connector pathway.

The Finance Committee authorized spending $47,700 from a community development block grant to build the newest trail, which will connect the existing riverwalk at Jackson Falls Condominiums to the parking lot of Margarita's Restaurant.

The Nashua Riverwalk is intended to become a nearly 2-mile trail along the Nashua River, which continues to be developed in phases.

"It is a great project," said Alderman-at-Large Barbara Pressly, questioning how the new, 240-feet connector trail will be maintained.

Currently, it is the responsibility of the city's Parks and Recreation Department to provide upkeep and maintenance of the Nashua Riverwalk, according to Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, who said the department already has 900-acres of city parks to maintain.

An analysis is being conducted to determine whether any specific duties could be spread among different groups or entities, said Lozeau, explaining future decisions will need to be made about the matter.

Perhaps a new approach could be considered, she said, noting the possibility of a future sidewalk crew that would have the sole responsibility of maintaining the city's 214-miles of sidewalks.

"What do we have to do to finally get this done?" Alderman-at-Large David Deane asked about the Nashua Riverwalk.

Lozeau said there are two major pieces of the pedestrian pathway that remain - a section near the Nashua Senior Activity Center by June Caron Park, and another section along Front Street that is part of the Cotton Mill Square project.

While funding is available for one of the two portions, Lozeau said money has not yet been located for the pathway near the senior center, but she is hopeful that funding will become available in the form of a grant.

The latest riverwalk proposal comes about four months after the Board of Aldermen accepted a trail easement deed along the Nashua River west of Nashua Drive from the Nashua River Holding Company, LLC. The easement adds nearly 4,000 square feet to the growing riverwalk.

The recent acquisition of the trail easement now allows for uninterrupted passage of the riverwalk from Main Street to Nashua Drive. Saint's Landscaping of Nashua was awarded the contract for the work, and construction should be completed by June 1.

Details of the project include a concrete and brick-lined walkway, three solar light lamp posts, two benches with armrests and various landscaping.

The Nashua Riverwalk has been included in the city's Downtown Master Plan for nearly three decades, with an ultimate goal of connecting the riverfront to form a 1.6-mile looped walkway along the Nashua River that is convenient for pedestrians and bikers.

The Riverwalk is being funded by a combination of grants.

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Kimberly Houghton may be reached at khoughton@newstote.com.


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