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May 04. 2014 10:21PM

Nashua aldermen to vote on funding for chimney restoration

NASHUA — This week, an aldermanic committee is expected to vote on whether to spend more than $750,000 to restore the iconic Millyard Chimney in the heart of the Nashua Millyard.

City officials have been faced with four different options on how to restore the aging chimney that was shortened by about 15 feet three years ago because of deterioration to the top of the structure.

The chimney, which once stood 180 feet, is now about 165 feet high. In order to save the failing chimney, the interior circular liner of bricks will need to be removed before steel or fiber reinforcements are put into place.

International Chimney of Williamsville, N.Y., has offered several alternatives to the project, which include restoring the chimney’s height to 180 feet, keeping it at the current height of 165 feet or lowering it to 150 feet or 120 feet. The cost estimates range from $674,000 to nearly $922,000 for the tallest height.

Last month, the aldermanic committee on infrastructure recommended restoring the chimney at its existing height of 165 feet. Although there was no discussion at the time of the committee’s decision, another panel will review the matter this week.

The aldermanic finance committee will vote Wednesday on whether to spend $762,300 to restore the chimney at its current height, a decision that must be made relatively soon because of ongoing Broad Street Parkway construction that is in the close vicinity of the chimney structure.

“The Broad Street Parkway budget includes $650,000 for construction related to this chimney,” Mayor Donnalee Lozeau wrote in a memo to the Finance Committee. To date, more than $43,000 has already been spent on the chimney to brace the bottom of the structure and remove loose bricks from the top, she explained.

After meeting with representatives from the New Hampshire Division of Historic Resources, Lozeau said that Elizabeth Muzzey, a state historic preservation officer, determined that keeping the chimney at its current height would be preferable.

The Board of Public Works also agrees that keeping the chimney at 165 feet would be the most valuable alternative.

“Recently, New Hampshire Department of Transportation notified us that immediate action is needed on this chimney contract due to time limits on the federal funds programmed for this aspect of the work,” said Lozeau. “The Board of Aldermen faces a difficult decision. The chimney is an icon of Nashua’s past, and can serve as a landmark in the future. However, restoration of this important structure would require funding beyond our current budget.”

However, it was noted previously that the Broad Street Parkway project is under budget, and there could be potential savings associated with the work.

The Millyard chimney, which has been owned by the city since 1991, is part of the system that powered the mills with steam about a century ago. The Millyard — including its chimney — has been recognized by the National Register of Historic Places because of its start in 1826.

Wednesday’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Nashua City Hall.

khoughton@newstote.com


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