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For new White Park skate house, windows may be bird-friendly, puck-resistant

  • Designs by the H.L. Turner Group of Concord depict the skate house and surrounding grounds at White Park in Concord.

  • Architectural renderings developed by C.N. Carley Associates of Concord depict the replacement Merrimack County Superior Court.



Monitor staff
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

In addition to being strong enough to withstand the impact of errant hockey pucks, the windowed front of the new White Park skate house may feature bird-friendly glass.

That was one of the recommendations the planning board offered during courtesy reviews of the skate house and Merrimack County Superior Court projects Wednesday.

Because the proposals come from the city and county, they don’t require the same approvals as private developers. Nevertheless, the city skated away with a thumbs-up, and the courthouse designers promised to check in again as plans for the replacement of the old court continue to develop.

The planning board’s vice chairwoman, Carol Foss, noted that there’s “a lot of new technology” that might prevent birds from unwittingly crashing into the glassy face of the skate house on the nearby pond.

“We could provide something that’s reflective a little bit, so they could pick up that there’s something there,” said Doug Proctor, an architect for the H.L. Turner Group.

“It’d also have to be very secure for hockey pucks and stuff too,” added David Gill, the director of parks and recreation.

Gill said in “an ideal world” he’d like to begin construction on the skate house before next year, replacing the existing dilapidated building on its same foundation.

But he noted that only 50 percent of the project’s cost is budgeted by the city, with the remainder to come from private donations.

“I’d like to do it sooner than” next year, he said, “but it all depends whether private donations come in.”

Evan Mulholland, a resident of White Street, was the only member of the public to comment at either public hearing. He said he wanted to extend a compliment to Gill and the other planners “for having so many meetings with us and listening to the neighborhood’s concerns.”

“I think it’s great. I support the project,” he said. “I second the bird-friendly glass idea. We wouldn’t want to have to replace the glass after we see a bunch of dead birds lying around.”

For the courthouse, architect Chris Carley of C.N. Carley Associates said his team is still working out the details of the retaining wall that will be required on North Main Street.

While the requirement to provide 150 parking spaces in a cramped lot presents a challenge, Carley said he’s hoping to put the best face he can on North Main Street, which will be helped by the removal of the administrative building that currently blocks the view of the existing court.

“It’s a building that, as long as I’ve lived in Concord, which is coming up on 40 years now, I’ve always wondered at the siting of,” he said. “It’s sort of in the way of just about everything that is otherwise on the site. This will open up the vista to the old courthouse and remove something that I think is a little bit confounding.”

But that space will be filled by a parking lot and a retaining wall that Carley said varies in height from 2 to 6 feet, “which, again, is both an opportunity and a challenge.”

He said he’s planning for a masonry wall with a planting trellis on it, hoping that the final product will “cut off the view as much as we can to the parking area, and leave exposed the existing old courthouse.”

Chairman Richard Woodfin noted that there’s been some discussion of incorporating public art into the space, and that’s an element “we would love to endorse.”

“There will be more about this later,” Carley said. “This is something we’re going to discuss in detail with planning staff and bring back to the planning board.”

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at
@NickBReid.)