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May 11. 2014 9:05PM

Nashua officials: Failure to fix millyard chimney could be costly

NASHUA — Although it is expensive to restore the iconic millyard chimney in Nashua, aldermen say demolishing the structure would also be costly.

Last week, the aldermanic finance committee recommended spending $762,300 to reinforce the chimney at its existing height of 165 feet.

“It is a very large number,” David Deane, president of the Board of Aldermen, said of the estimated price. “But the number works both ways.”

According to Deane, it could cost between $300,000 and $500,000 to dispose of the chimney that stands in the middle of the Nashua Millyard. Deane said there are other unknown costs associated with removing the chimney.

If the chimney is removed, some type of additional historical mitigation would have to be completed as part of the Broad Street Parkway agreement, Deane said.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau echoed those concerns, saying the record of decision for the parkway could be reopened by federal regulators, and the city could be forced to undergo a new historical mitigation project if the chimney is not preserved as originally planned.

It would also cost extra money if the Broad Street Parkway work had to be put on hold to complete historical mitigation requirements, said Lozeau.

To date, about $2 million in historical components for the Broad Street Parkway have already been spent, according to Lozeau.

Alderman Ken Siegel, Ward 9, said he supports the restoration of the chimney, mostly because there are too many unknowns if the structure is not improved. In addition, he said the chimney does have some value to the city.

With the finance committee supporting the chimney restoration, the full Board of Aldermen is expected to vote on the matter this week.

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.

“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,” Lozeau said in a recent memo.

The Broad Street Parkway budget includes $650,000 for construction related to the chimney, however more than $43,000 has already been spent to brace the bottom of the structure and remove loose bricks from the top.

Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at Nashua City Hall.

khoughton@newstote.com


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