NASHUA — After months of debate, two aldermanic committees are recommending that Legacy Playground be built along the east side of Greeley Park, and that an independent consultant be hired to design the structure.
Although Leadership Greater Nashua is gifting the fully accessible playground to the city, the aldermanic Budget Review Committee and Committee on Infrastructure are recommending that $15,000 in city funds be used to hire the Institute for Human Centered Design to design the playground.
The full Board of Aldermen is expected to vote next week on both the design contract and the location of the playground on Greeley Park’s east side.
Alderman David Deane, board president, described the $15,000 cost for the design work as a bargain, saying it is worthwhile investment.
Others agreed that the design should be completed by a professional third party, but were hesitant about adding taxpayer costs to a gift that is being given to the city from Leadership Greater Nashua.
“I am concerned about the $15,000,” said Alderwoman Pamela Brown, Ward 4.
Her comments were echoed by Alderman Michael Soucy, Ward 5.
“We are in financial trouble,” said Soucy, mentioning budget woes within the school department and police department budgets.
If Leadership Greater Nashua is able to raise the estimated $250,000 to build the playground — a significant portion of that has already been collected — Soucy said he would hope that the group would return the $15,000 to the city. However, Soucy said he doesn’t mind fronting the cash to allow the project to move forward.
Regarding the $250,000 budget for the playground, Soucy maintained that is a hefty pricetag for a play structure, adding land could be purchased and a house could be built for that amount.
Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said the $250,000 was a cost estimate, and the final cost analysis may be significantly less.
“I think it can be done for maybe half of that,” she said.
With the playground on the verge of receiving site approval after months of discussion and review, several aldermen said a master plan for Greeley Park must be created to address situations like this in the future.
Currently, a building moratorium exists at Greeley Park, meaning any changes must be authorized by aldermen.
A master plan focusing on preservation rather than development should be established, said Alderman David Schoneman, Ward 3.
“It is a natural wonder of the city,” agreed Alderman Richard Dowd, saying the park should remain in its natural state, but a master plan might help attract amenities that are not now being used.