With 900 housing units planned in Merrimack, local schools could see influx of new studentsBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
March 14. 2018 11:43PM
MERRIMACK — There are currently more than 900 apartment units and homes being constructed or about to be constructed in town, which could bring an influx of new students into the local school system.
“We are very much a single-family community, and this is going to be a huge shift,” said Michael Thompson, school board member.
There are about 10 housing projects currently in the works in Merrimack, and if all of them receive planning board approval and construction takes place, about 757 new apartment units and 169 new houses will be available in town.
“It seems like a lot of these projects are fairly close to being ready to go,” said Michael Thompson.
According to Tim Thompson, community development director, the new housing is expected to bring in between 220 to 281 new school-aged children into the local school district.
These numbers, however, could be fairly exaggerated, he recently told school officials.
“If anything, the experience I have on these multipliers is that they tend to overestimate, especially on multifamily projects,” said Tim Thompson.
The three major housing projects include 192 apartment units at Merrimack Park Place at the outlets, 240 units off Route 3 near Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and 280 apartments on Executive Park Drive.
“I know that this was my concern — the large amount of units near Executive Park Drive,” said Michael Thompson, adding he worries how that development might impact enrollment at Thorntons Ferry Elementary School, especially if full-day kindergarten is approved at the polls next month.
That project, which was conditionally approved by the planning board last month, could bring about 48 children into the school system, according to Tim Thompson. He expects the Executive Park development to be under construction within the next year.
“Obviously with the declining (students) enrollments, I don’t think there is going to be a major issue,” said Michael Thompson.
Andy Schneider, another school board member, said the declining student enrollment is starting to flatten slightly. The additional housing projects and influx of new students could help to steady the district’s enrollment numbers, said Schneider.
Several of the housing projects, with the exception of the single-family homes, are aimed to attract young professionals that commute into Boston and may not have started families yet, said Tim Thompson.
“I want to see that diversity in housing,” he said, explaining that is key to increasing the workforce.
The housing projects, all of which are in various stages of approval and development in Merrimack, include: The John J. Flatley mixed use development near Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics that includes 240 units in the first phase of construction; the Edgebrook Heights mixed use development near the former Nashua Corp. that was originally approved for 156 units but will require new approvals because they have expired; Merrimack Park Place at the outlets that includes 192 units; Chestnut Hill cluster subdivision near the middle school that has 72 cluster lots for homes; the Tomasian cluster subdivision aimed for 19 homes; the Crosswoods Path conversion project with 21 multifamily units; the Greenfield Farms cluster subdivision off Wire Road with 66 housing lots; the Goshen cluster subdivision off Watkins Road that has 12 new housing lots; the Executive Park Drive project with 280 units on two lots and the conceptual NeighborWorks project off Angelo Drive that could have 45 units.