Board OKs land swap for YMCA

NASHUA – With one land swap and one vote to lease land back to a former owner, the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday approved two land transactions that city officials have touted as benefiting both the city and a private company or organization.

Both were OK’d without a dissenting vote.

In the first case, the city approved trading a triangle of land off Riverside Street with Pratt Homes, which provides housing to disabled residents.

The trade will allow Pratt Homes to expand, and the city to lease land to the YMCA for a new facility.

The legislation made its way through two aldermanic committees and the city Planning Board before being returned to the Board of Aldermen with recommendations for approval.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said the legislation “paves the way for a longtime public-private partnership.”

The board approved the swap by a 14-0 vote. Ward 1 Alderman Mark Cookson recused himself from the vote and discussion because of a potential conflict of interest.

Cookson said he recently expressed interest in becoming a member of the YMCA’s board.

The swap would give the Pratt Foundation 1.25 acres, suitable to expand its housing for elderly and disabled residents.

Meanwhile, the city would receive a 0.58-acre parcel that would create a city-owned triangle near Stellos Stadium that would be suitable for a new Y, creating a sports campus off Exit 5 of the F.E. Everett Turnpike in the process.

The Conway Ice Arena is nearby.

YMCA officials announced this fall that they would sell the current facility at 17 Prospect St. to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center for $4.5 million. The hospital plans to convert the building to medical office space.

While the closing isn’t until August, the sale means the YMCA will have no facility in the city from next summer until a new one opens in 2010. It has invited members to use the facility in Merrimack.

In the other legislation approved Tuesday, aldermen agreed to lease land acquired for the Broad Street Parkway back to a local company.

This was another piece of legislation that had been discussed at an earlier board meeting and then referred to two committees to iron out details, including which account the money received would be placed.

It passed by a unanimous voice vote.

The parcel involved is less than 2 acres and now provides parking in the Millyard. Before being bought by the state for the parkway, the property was owned by Riverside Properties of Nashua Inc., 7 Pine St. Ext.

Riverside is the owner of P.M. MacKay Group, and the land sits near two buildings that the company owns in the Millyard. One of the buildings houses Gallery One and spaces for a theater group and artists.

Under the proposed deal, the city would get $20,000 for the first year and $30,000 for the remaining four years of the lease.

While the parcel was acquired for the cross-city roadway, it lies in the path of only one of the two options now being considered. That option is the more expensive and probably the less favorable of the two, Lozeau said.

It made no sense for the city to hold onto the land when it could generate money through a lease and allow Riverside to expand its business, she said.

The resolution was referred to the two committees when Alderman-at-Large Fred Teeboom raised question about where the money from the lease would be spent.

Because the land was acquired for the parkway, the money must be placed in an account related to parkway management.