NASHUA — After more than a year of listening to complaints about the ongoing downtown improvement project, city officials last week received some positive comments from people who do business on Main Street.
“I think the work that the city has done is great. I think the sidewalks look great and I think the planters look fantastic,” said Marylou Blaisdell, owner of Design Wares and member of the Downtown Improvement Committee. “I think it has modernized our downtown.”
Since crews from the city’s Public Works Department began the more than $2 million project last year, there have been numerous concerns about the project’s overall budget, disruption to downtown businesses and the cutting of more than a dozen mature trees.
However, Blaisdell told the Board of Public Works that there is also a lot of praise that should be heard.
“We do need revitalization, and I think this is a step towards it,” she said.
While she said she would love to keep the trees standing, Blaisdell said her business has a honey locust tree outside with roots that have disrupted a nearby drain pipe. During heavy rain, Blaisdell says she is forced to use a stick to clear out the drain pipe so that her business doesn’t flood.
Rick Lannan of The Lannan Co. Inc., who is also a member of the Downtown Improvement Committee, also shared positive comments about the work being completed along Main Street, where he owns a few buildings.
“The trees are out of hand, for the most part,” he said of the overgrown trees with roots that are damaging the downtown brick sidewalks.
The new, smaller trees that are being planted to replace the mature trees being cut down and new planters that are being installed, look beautiful, he said.
There seems to be a good vision for the downtown area, he said.
He said he is pleased that city crews are completing the work. If the project went out to bid, various engineering costs and design elements might have stalled the work and construction may not have even begun yet, he said.
Lannan said city residents will hopefully be appreciative of the improvements.
“It really is a beautiful project,” agreed Paula Johnson, a former alderman. Johnson did, however, voice concerns about whether a median built in the center of Main Street was accessible to people with disabilities, and questioned the need for a railing that was recently constructed.
Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said every aspect of the downtown renovations are accessible and that the railing was added as a design element playing on The Gate City nickname, and will not be incorporated throughout the entire project.
In response to the many questions about the downtown improvements, regular updates are being posted on the city’s website to notify business owners, patrons and visitors about specific work that is being completed weekly throughout different blocks on Main Street.
Blaisdell said those notices have been beneficial. She asked that the entire year’s plan be drafted and made public to help downtown business owners plan accordingly.
Meanwhile, the board could soon receive an online petition spearheaded by Alderman Dan Moriarty to save the remaining mature trees on Main Street.
So far, more than 500 signatures have been collected.