190529-news-nashualibrary

Plans are being proposed to transform the Nashua Public Library plaza into an outdoor space ideal for concerts, festivals and other activities.

NASHUA — As the library’s 50th anniversary approaches, a vision to transform the library plaza in downtown Nashua is being vetted.

“The idea is to look at this as more of a recreation space, a performance space in the middle and more of a passive space,” said Sarah Marchant, community development director for the city.

The proposed plaza renovation is still in its early stages, as funding for the project has not yet been secured, Marchant acknowledged.

CRJA Landscape Architects is working to draft a conceptual design for the space — a project that would likely be completed in phases, she explained.

“There are a number of problems we hope this renovation will address, and there are a number of opportunities as well,” said Jennifer McCormack, director of the Nashua Public Library.

The plaza area consists of grass and concrete space extending from the library’s parking lot to Court Street, and from the entrance to the library to the front door of the nearby Court Street Theater.

“The condition of the grounds has really deteriorated,” said McCormack, adding the concrete is in poor condition and “less than desirable” activities have occurred on the property.

To curb some of those negative activities and to provide a space for children and families to enjoy, the library plaza renovation is expected to include a recreation area or play space, possibly with different colors of artificial turf, according to preliminary designs.

The project is intended to provide a connection between the library and the Court Street Theater building, while also providing more downtown green space, addressing drainage problems and correcting accessibility issues, explained Marchant. This could become a destination onto itself, she said, adding the renovated library plaza could attract individuals and families that wouldn’t typically utilize the library.

“I am very excited about this. The library is an incredibly unused asset in the city,” said Alderman Brandon Laws.

The library plaza is already used for seasonal events such as the back-to-school rally, weekly concert series, summer reading kickoff and other children’s activities.

McCormack said that if electricity and water are available on site, the plaza could be used for many other purposes.

“We really hope that these plans come to fruition,” she added.

Marchant said there are some environmental issues that will need to be considered, specifically asbestos in the area.

The larger picture for the space could potentially include an area for food trucks, an outdoor classroom near the riverfront, built-in checker and chess tables and more. She is hopeful that the design plan will be completed by the end of the summer, and that the first phase of improvements could be funded in the next budget cycle.