No. 43 best place to live? Merrimack

MERRIMACK – Remember when Anheuser-Busch ran a TV advertisement last year featuring a picturesque, autumn fly-over of Merrimack, only it was actually Hillsboro?
Well, may have made a related faux pas.

Earlier this week, Money ranked Merrimack 43rd on its list of 100 “best places to live” for 2009, based on factors such as population, education scores, crime statistics and income.

While Merrimack earned its rank numbers-wise, a closer look at’s sparse description of the town suggests the writer may have never set foot there.

Mysteriously identified only as “R.G.,” the writer says that Merrimack is “only an hour away from the ocean and the White Mountains.”

Now that’s some fast driving.

“The town,” R.G. continues, “attracts people for its shopping along Route 3.”
Perhaps he’s referring to Chelsea Property Group’s yet to-be-built 135-store, outlet mall, which will be in the neighborhood of Route 3? Or maybe Zyla’s, before it closed?

Merrimack, R.G. writes, is also an attractor for “recreation on conservation land along a lake.”

Which lake?

There’s Baboosic and Naticook and . . . well, maybe neither were listed in Wikipedia.

In all, R.G. reduced the description of Merrimack to 70 words. If you divide them among the town’s 27,000 residents, each person would get two one thousandths of a word.

Other New Hampshire communities also made the cut. R.G. proves to have totally immersed himself in those places, too – meaning he or she Googled them.

In the entry on 66th-ranked Hooksett, (which is published in online text as “Hookset”) R.G. writes that the town has “retained its rural character.” In a rapid change of heart, R.G. then writes that in “Hookset,” “fields and farms are gone.”

Plus, the poor residents of Concord, which came in 95th, will have to be informed that R.G. downgraded their capital city to a “town.”

Maybe we should throw R.G. a bone. After all, the rankings are really a numbers game. And who cares, especially if it puts communities on the map and makes people happy?

Nashua was crowned twice by Money Magazine, first in 1987 and then in 1997.

After Nashua achieved top honors for a second time, the phone at the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce was off the hook with folks from far-away, bottom-dwelling towns “wondering what makes us so special.”

Even the British Broadcasting Corp. showed up in Nashua to interview then-mayor Don Davidson, who said at the time he gave 45 interviews in a matter of days after the announcement.

This week, Town Council Chairman Tom Mahon said in a statement that it is “really great to get this kind of national recognition,” as it “fits nicely with the council’s goal of encouraging economic development in the community and region.”

Understandably, folks in Merrimack – which is on a roll by receiving recent kudos in Forbes Magazine – may feel a sense of pride about making the list.

But maybe the people of Merrimack would invite R.G. to town for a bite at a locally owned watering hole or maybe an ice cream at old King Kone. R.G. could stroll around Horseshoe Pond, grab a beer at Budweiser and pet the Clydesdales, or maybe take in a summer evening concert at Abbie Griffin Park – things that make the town what it is.

Maybe then next year’s write up would have a little more Merrimack flavor. A little more life.

And since he’d be so familiar with what makes Merrimack unique, he’d be sure not to forget his E-ZPass.

Karen Lovett can be reached at 594-6402 or