Funding for second phase of Concord greenway trail chugs forward

  • The I-93 expansion project includes plans to create a connection between the Merrimack River Greenway Trailand Concord’s downtown. Photo credit: Christine Vigneault, Trustee, FMRGT.

  • The first phase of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail sought to connect Loudon Road and Manchester Street, chiefly through a quarter-mile-long boardwalk over wetlands. Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail

Monitor staff
Published: 9/12/2023 4:09:07 PM

The second phase of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail connecting Loudon Road to Manchester Street secured unanimous approval of $705,000 in funding from the Concord City Council.

This new stretch, built on city-owned agricultural land near Exit 14 off Interstate 93 – that was recently the site of the sunflower festival – will extend south toward Terrill Park serving as a crucial link for residents.

“Manchester Street doesn’t have a transportation corridor from our bus system,” said City Councilor Jennifer Kretovic. “They have to walk through those fields in order to get to real grocery stores in our city. This is the most important connection of the trail.”

Funding for this project comprises a combination of sources, including grants, bonds, and donations. The city will issue $130,000 in bonds, accept $275,000 in grant funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and receive $300,000 in donations from the Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail.

The project’s first phase, a 0.3-mile section in Terrill Park, was completed in the fall of 2020. The second phase, which is a paved trail, is a vital component of the overall initiative, according to Nick Holmes, Trustee of the Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail.

“It will give walkers, joggers and bikers access to the river and access for families with strollers, kids learning to ride bikes and people with disabilities,” said Holmes.

When complete, the paved trail will be about 12.7 miles long and run along the Merrimack River from the city line with Boscawen to the north and Pembroke to the south.

Changes to parking spaces

The proposal for a handicapped parking space near the YMCA building on Warren Street faced rejection during Monday’s city council meeting. The decision came after concerns were raised about the proposed space not offering a comprehensive solution.

Susan Dow, a Pembroke resident with a walking disability placard who frequents the YMCA on Warren Street, had requested the space due to parking difficulties.

The Parking Committee recommended approving a two-hour limit handicapped parking space, but Mayor Jim Bouley and a few city councilors expressed reservations about its long-term effectiveness.

“If somebody’s doing rehab [at the YMCA], most likely they don’t necessarily have a handicap placard to put it in the car, that really doesn’t help the individual. It’s really a very small limited clientele that we are really trying to solve a problem for,” said Bouley.

A designated handicapped parking space on Warren Street would also result in the loss of a parking space that generates $45,000 in revenue for the city annually.

The decision regarding parking restrictions between Conant Drive and Coolidge Avenue was been postponed and is now under the purview of the Transportation Policy Advisory Committee.

Likewise, the proposal to eliminate the three-hour parking zones on Washington Street, in order to provide unrestricted parking to support the residents of a 9-unit rooming house, has also been delayed.

Sruthi Gopalakrishnan

Sruthi Gopalakrishnan covers environmental and energy stories in Bow, Hopkinton, Dunbarton and Warner for the Concord Monitor. In 2022, she graduated from Northwestern University with a master's degree in journalism, specializing in investigative reporting. She also has a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering and is always looking for new ways to incorporate data and visual elements into her stories. Her work has appeared in Energy News Network, Prism Reports and Crain's Chicago Business.

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