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January 01. 2013 11:16PM

Nashua looks to its riverwalk

NASHUA - City officials this week will review a proposal to expand the Nashua Riverwalk and connect the evolving path to an existing downtown parking lot.

The aldermanic Finance Committee will be presented tonight with a proposed bid totaling $47,700 for the work. The Nashua Riverwalk is intended to become a nearly two-mile trail along the Nashua River.

"The purpose of this portion of the project is to construct a trail connecting the existing Riverwalk at Jackson Falls Condominiums to the parking lot of Margarita's Restaurant," says a memo written to Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, chairman of the Finance Committee. "The proposed trail will be 8 feet wide by approximately 240 feet in length."

This latest 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. Now, the Finance Committee is being asked to approve $47,700 in funding to connect the trail. The funding - if approved - will be paid with a community development block grant. The city received bids from eight companies to construct the most recent trail connection, with Saint's Landscaping of Nashua being recommended for the work.

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 city of Nashua, its residents and leaders, have envisioned the Nashua Riverwalk for almost 30 years, as noted in the 1983 and 1991 downtown master plans," the memo says.

In order to make the riverwalk a reality, several walkway sections have already been completed, and various public access easements have been deeded to the city.

In the fall of 2010, a portion that links the Nashua Public Library with a trail that extends eastward along the river to a footbridge behind BAE Systems was unveiled.

Prior to that, the boardwalk next to Peddler's Daughter was completed in 2006, the Heritage Trail behind the library was finished in 1994, and other sections were constructed in the 1990s.

If the financing is approved, the new path would connect Margarita's Mexican Restaurant with an existing riverwalk path near the Jackson Falls housing complex, and should be completed by June 1, 2013, according to documents on file at Nashua City Hall.

"When these opportunities are available, we should really take advantage of it," Alderman-at-Large David Deane said previously. "I believe this is an important project for the city."

The riverwalk is being funded by a combination of grants. The city was originally awarded $190,000 of HUD Economic Development Initiative funds in 2008 to enhance and improve the area along the Nashua River where the riverwalk is being constructed.

The Finance Committee will meet at 7 p.m. at Nashua City Hall.

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


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