More improvements planned for Oval

MILFORD – Twenty years ago, the center of Milford underwent an extensive makeover. Period lighting, brick walkways, new landscaping and small traffic islands were added to the Oval, and Milford received state and national awards for its downtown renovations. Another phase of those plans – renovations to South Street, leading off the Oval – will finally get underway this spring. And that won’t be the end of the renovations, say officials, who are now looking at the next phase, hoping to improve traffic flow and make walking safer along Nashua Street and in the Oval area.

On March 29, the town’s Community Development Department hosted a public session to lay out various scenarios and get input from residents.

Some of the ideas being considered for the Oval area are adding more crosswalks, reconstruct­ing the traffic islands to help large vehicles avoid the granite posts and curbs, and changing Mid­dle Street to one way to allow angled parking on its south side.

For Nashua Street, the focus is on improving traf­fic flow and pedestrian access between Clinton Street and Tonella Road.

Three designs are pro­posed: one with a cen­ter turn lane, one with a center boulevard and one with a center turn lane with landscaping in front of the plaza.

What there won’t be is a traffic light.

CVS, which is build­ing a pharmacy at the corner of Clinton and Nashua streets, offered to pay for one, but traffic projections for the Clin­ton Street-Nashua Street intersection don’t ful­fill state criteria, Jason Plourde, a traffic engi­neer who is on the town’s Traffic Safety Committee, told the audience of a few dozen people.

During the comment portion of the meeting, one woman criticized the Planning Board for al­lowing another drugstore when there are "eight pharmacies within a 21/2- mile" radius.

Board members ex­plained that a town can’t bar a business unless there is a law in place.

Board Chairman Chris Beers said he agreed there are too many drug­stores, but "CVS meets our ordinance."

Other points that came up during the comment period:

  • Vice Chairwoman Ja­net Langdell explained how residents can change or add a zoning ordinance.
  • Selectmen’s Chairman Mark Fougere, who is also the Hollis town planner, said that town was able to keep out a second drug­store, a Rite Aid Pharma­cy, because it has a zoning ordinance that prohibits drive-throughs, and Rite Aid didn’t want to build a store without one.
  • A person complained about a lack of mainte­nance in downtown Mil­ford, including sidewalks that aren’t swept. Lang­dell said it’s a question of prioritizing town services in the wake of two default budgets.
  • Another person said the Oval was built to ac­commodate fire trucks and that they manage it well, and that drivers would drive faster if there is more room to maneuver.

The point of the meet­ing was to get input from property owners, busi­nesses and residents. Langdell emphasized that all of the plans are still only concepts and that the planners will seek additional commu­nity input before they make decisions.

There will be another public forum in June, and in October, preliminary plans will be present­ed for more input, with construction to begin in spring 2017.

According to Tim Roach, executive director of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, there is almost $1.9 mil­lion in federal and local funding available for Mil­ford’s downtown renova­tions.

To comment about the plans, residents are in­vited to email Community Development Director Lincoln Daley at ldaley@ milford.nh.gov.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.