Friday, September 28, 2012

Nashua Looks at Buying Two Pan Am Railways Parcels


NASHUA — City officials have recently negotiated with Pan Am Railways to acquire two railroad parcels near the East Hollis Street fire station.

According to Alderman-at-Large Lori Wilshire, Nashua has $280,104 available in federal funds to buy the parcels for the city’s ongoing Rail Trail Parcel Acquisition. The two sites currently belong to Boston & Maine Corp, a subsidiary of the Pan Am Railways network. Pan Am owns rail line from Manchester south into Boston.

Wilshire explained that the enhancement fund requires a 20 percent local match, meaning the city would be obligated to contribute slightly more than $70,000 for the acquisition, which is supported by Mayor Donnalee Lozeau.

Lozeau is recommending that the city’s contribution be funded with prior year escrow money.

On Monday, the aldermanic Human Affairs Committee was introduced with proposed legislation that — if approved by the full Board of Aldermen — will enable the purchase of the two parcels north of East Hollis Street between Mason and Commercial Streets.

Nine aldermen are co-sponsoring the proposed legislation, which was supported by the Human Affairs Committee. The aldermanic Planning and Economic Development Committee will review the proposal Oct. 2, and the Planning Board will study the recommendation Oct. 4.

The city, in conjunction with the New Hampshire Transportation Advisory Committee, has used transportation enhancement funds for previous projects, Wilshire said.

They include the 1.3-mile Heritage Rail Trail, as well as the construction of the Nashua River Rail Trail, a former railroad right of way that travels more than 10 miles into Massachusetts and is used by bicyclists and pedestrians.

“I am all for this,” said Alderman Daniel Moriarty, Ward 9, while looking at a map of the two parcels. “I was surprised that we own all these easements as it is.”

“It has been an ongoing process to acquire these,” Wilshire said.

There was no discussion as to what would be done with the two railroad properties if they are acquired by the city.

The mayor has said that two train stations could be built in the Nashua area to accommodate a future rail system.

She believes that a multi-modal transit center could be constructed off a newly formed Exit 36 just south of Nashua at the Massachusetts border into Tyngsborough.

A study investigating that option is under way.

She has also said a second, smaller train station could be built somewhere in the downtown area, possibly on land near Crown Street or East Hollis Street.

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