Fast News

Bridge reopening

AMHERST – Replace­ment of the Manchester Road bridge is almost complete, and town of­ficials will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Nov. 20.

Linda Kaiser, whose home is adjacent to the bridge, told selectmen on Nov. 9 that she and her neighbors would like three stop signs at the bridge and a ban on through-trucking.

"Old houses shouldn’t have trucks passing," she told the board.

Selectman Tom Grella said the bridge will be an agenda item for the town Traffic Safety Committee.

The bridge, a major point of entry and exit for the Village area, was closed to traffic in December 2012 after the state said it had no safe carrying capacity.

– KATHY CLEVELAND

Pipeline and Hassan

AMHERST – Energy giant Kinder Morgan is set to file its natural gas pipeline route with the Federal Energy Regu­latory Commission on Friday, Nov. 20, and while Amherst selectmen say they are somewhat satis­fied with the change in the route through town, they are still unanimous­ly opposed to the pipe­line going through New Hampshire.

The board had talked about filing suit, but John D’Angelo, select­men’s representative to the town’s Pipeline Task Force, told the board on Nov. 9 that a court fight could become a "black hole." He said there probably is not a lot that a single town, or even a coalition of towns, can do to prevent it, because Gov. Maggie Hassan is not opposing it.

"The governor is equivocal at best, and at worst in favor of having this pipeline through New Hampshire," he said. "If the governor was pushing hard" to oppose it, "it would be a different story."

And now that she is running for a seat on the U.S. Senate, D’Angelo said, "My personal suspi­cion is that the less talk about the pipeline, the happier she will be."

The new route through Amherst negotiated by the town is much less disruptive, selectmen say, avoiding the Souhegan River, residential cul-de-sacs and conservation areas, including Ponemah Bog.

– KATHY CLEVELAND

Sports fields at Brox

MILFORD – The Mil­ford Community Athletic Association is "absolutely in favor" of developing sports fields on the Brox property, MCAA Presi­dent Kevin Doyle told selectmen last week.

With St. Joseph Hos­pital planning to sell land it owns adjacent to the MCAA’s North River Road fields, the need for more sports fields is especially acute, he said. Town Recreation Director Arene Berry also told the board all town sports organizations support the develop­ment of fields near Heron Pond Elementary School, adjacent to Brox. The current fields are heav­ily used by the MCAA, town recreation pro­grams, Souhegan Valley Lacrosse, and the middle and high schools, he said, and none of them get the rest they need to stay in prime condition.

Doyle said he was dis­turbed to hear that Brox Environmental Citizens, a group lobbying against development of the town-owned land, said the MCAA doesn’t want fields there.

– KATHY CLEVELAND

Parking woes

MILFORD – Selectmen seem to be backing away from the idea of down­town parking restric­tions.

Wendy Hunt, head of Milford Improvement Team, and Town Admin­istrator Mark Bender recently talked to 21 business owners around the Oval, and while the owners agreed there is not enough parking, most were not in favor of restrictions.

Hunt suggested better signs, making full-sized motorcycle spaces into regular parking spaces and creating parking spaces where there are unnecessary loading zones.

"The biggest thing," she said, "is for restau­rant workers to not take prime parking spots. Town employees could also park further away from the Oval to free up spaces near restaurants and other businesses, and residents who live above the shops could be encouraged to not park in front of businesses for long periods of time."

"When businesses do well, we all do well," she said, and everyone needs "gentle reminders" that when they take a spot, they are taking it away from a paying customer.

There are 227 marked parking spots, Hunt said.

Ed Killam, of Summer Street, told town officials he has lived here for 10 years and never had trouble finding a parking space. He said people need to "just walk a little bit."

– KATHY CLEVELAND

Roads and bridges

MILFORD – Town of­ficials are looking at a possible $5 million road bonding project.

Milford’s 86 miles of roads are rated 65 on a scale of 1 to 100, Depart­ment of Public Works Director Rick Riendeau told selectmen on Nov. 9, and it would be economi­cal to keep them in better condition.

The money would help improve 24 miles of roads.

"We don’t have a lot of bad roads or a lot of good roads," he said, and now is the time to catch the bad ones before they get really bad and to keep the good ones in good shape.

If the work is post­poned, the road condi­tions will drop dramati­cally, he said.

Selectmen have set roads and bridges as a ma­jor priority, but Selectman Gary Daniels noted that the tax rate is going up by $252 for a $200,000 house.

"As always, this need will have to be weighed against all the other needs," Chairman Mark Fougere said.

Riendeau also went over his bridge replace­ment priorities for the board, with the Mason Road Bridge over Great Brook the top priority. He said $8 million is needed for all bridges. He is proposing a $350,000 addition to the town’s bridge capital reserve fund.

"All metal culverts are failing," he said, and that is why Milford’s Jennison Road and Savage Road bridges failed.

Work on both bridges is expected to be complete soon and the bridges reopened, he said, and school buses will be able to use Savage Road.

– KATHY CLEVELAND

Oval repairs

MILFORD – More than 20 years ago, the Milford Oval underwent major renovations with the ad­dition of new brick side­walks, historic lighting, granite curbing and traf­fic islands for pedestrian safety. Over the years, the work was recognized with national and regional awards.

But now, the heart of Milford is showing its age, selectmen say, with side­walks that need repair, and traffic islands, which were a problem from the beginning, still creating a turning radius for big trucks that is too tight.

"I remember hearing complaints" the day the new Oval was dedicated, selectmen’s Chairman Mark Fougere said at the board’s Nov. 9 meeting.

Two members of the original design team, Chuck Worcester and Kent Chappell, were at the meeting, and said some of the suggested improvements included paring down part of the north pedestrian island, moving the west island farther west and a "bump out" on the north end of the Oval that forces trucks to make wider swings.

CLD Consulting En­gineers will look at the options.

– KATHY CLEVELAND