Nashua receives funds for park

NASHUA – As Salmon Brook flows through downtown, it passes an eyesore of weeds and abandoned industrial building foundations.

But the Nashua Rotary Club and city officials, with the financial support of the federal government, have plans to brighten a gateway to Main Street with a park, including walking trails, historical features and an outdoor performance venue.

U.S. Rep. Charles Bass on Friday announced a federal contribution to the project to perk up the old home of International Paper Box Machine Co., across from the Main Street Marketplace shopping center.

Today, little remains there besides building foundations.

Bass is to announce an award of $250,000 of federal money to be spent on a park at the site. It is part of an economic development initiative from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to Margo Shideler, a spokeswoman for Bass.

Community Development Director Kathy Hersh said the federal award is a key to the project, which will be a team effort between the public and private sectors.

The Nashua Rotary Club is expected to announce its own donation to the park reclamation effort on Monday at a lunchtime meeting at the Nashua Country Club.

City leaders have long eyed the parcel, which is owned by the state Department of Transportation.

The parcel at 315 Main St. includes land on both the north and south banks of the brook. The lot measures about 80,000 square feet.

The Department of Transportation acquired the land during the mid-1990s to replace wetlands destroyed during the expansion of the F.E. Everett Turnpike.

The parcel is a valuable piece of a proposed three-mile Salmon Brook Greenway, a ribbon of parkland that would stretch west from the Merrimack River to Lund Road.

Refurbishing the site is estimated to cost $600,000, according to Hersh.

Members of the community development and public works divisions have collaborated to craft ideas for the park, Hersh said.

The Main Street park would give residents an outdoor laboratory close to downtown, a place to see birds, fish and other wildlife and even canoe along the slowly moving brook.

The site’s important role in the city’s history would also be featured.

Some of the early inhabitants of the community settled along Salmon Brook. Later in the city’s history, residents harnessed the brook for its waterpower. An 1838 stone arch survives under Main Street, along with the Vale Dam, named for a long-gone textile company that sat beside the water.

The next step, Hersh said, is to turn to neighbors such as the Adult Learning Center, Elm Street Middle School and others in the area to incorporate their ideas for a park.