Nashua mayor says city is strong, getting strongerBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
February 22. 2017 4:02AM
NASHUA — While announcing the launch of several new initiatives to improve the city, Mayor Jim Donchess said Tuesday that Nashua’s economy is continuing to thrive.
“We are growing our economy and adding jobs. We have new housing in the works. We are improving our schools and we are lifting up our downtown,” Donchess said during his annual State of the City address before the Board of Aldermen. “We are meeting the challenge of the opioid addiction crisis and we are making Nashua city government more inclusive and transparent for all of Nashua’s people.”
The state of the city, according to the mayor, is strong and getting stronger. Nashua’s unemployment rate is 2.5 percent, with more jobs being added at UPS, 300 new jobs at BAE Systems’ south end campus and 150 jobs at Prudential Linen, a new cleanroom services business opening later this year.
“These jobs and the ripple effect they create will add many millions of dollars to our robust regional economy,” he said.
New businesses are moving into the city, including DataGravity, Plexxi, Benchmark and more, said Donchess, adding the John J. Flatley Co. is working to build a new research and development facility that could potentially provide 500 jobs within the next three years.
Several new initiatives were announced by the mayor on Tuesday, including a plan to help make the Nashua River part of the city’s identity.
Utilizing a landscape architecture and urban design firm, a 21st century plan will be created throughout the next few months to help promote Nashua’s riverfront, said Donchess.
In addition, city officials are working to potentially convert the historic Central Fire Station on Court Street into a music venue, with help from Great American Downtown and Ben Ruddock of Riverwalk Cafe.
“This venue could bring first-rate musicians performing Americana, Indie, bluegrass and other diverse genres to downtown,” said Donchess, who is hopeful that it might attract up to 300 people to the downtown area on a regular basis.
A separate initiative dubbed “End Childhood Hunger in Nashua” is about to be launched, which will take place at Dr. Crisp Elementary School and include several existing agencies such as the Salvation Army, United Way, Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter and more.
Starting next month, the first-ever Nashua Citizens Academy will kick off — an effort to open Nashua city government to as many citizens as possible. Local citizens will meet weekly to learn more about city departments, operations and budgets.
Another area of focus is the city’s recreational fields. Donchess said he has plans to build two new soccer and lacrosse fields in the dusty area next to Charlotte Avenue Elementary School, and a third ball field at the park on Jewell Lane next to the school.
Regarding city schools, the mayor praised Superintendent Connie Brown’s proposal to expand all-day kindergarten to every elementary school in Nashua — an initiative that Donchess supports.
Donchess said he will include funding for all-day kindergarten in his proposed operating budget for fiscal year 2018, but will not support several cuts made in Brown’s proposed budget — specifically her recommendation to cut 10 custodians and two teaching coaches.
The mayor praised efforts by several organizations to launch the Nashua Safe Stations program last fall.
“People in trouble have responded,” he said, adding that so far this year, an average of two people per day have reported to a safe station seeking help with substance abuse and addiction.
Fatalities from drug overdoses have declined since December, added Donchess.