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My Turn: A missing piece in Penacook

Downtown Penacook is in the middle of the reconstruction of Village Street. Soon we will have a new look, with reconfigured traffic patterns and even a roundabout to improve the Washington Street/Village Street intersection. The Boudreau Square monument will be more accessible to pedestrians and our sidewalks will be smooth and solid.

But something is missing.

During the project, it was discovered that the gazebo erected in 1995 had become unstable and couldn’t be moved to the new location required by the roundabout. It had to be demolished to allow the project to go forward. In the 19 years it stood, it had become a notable landmark in the village. More importantly, it had become a memorial to the man who was most instrumental in its construction, Dave Poulin.

When Dave died unexpectedly in 2001, a group of his friends petitioned the city to rename the area where the gazebo stood Poulin Park. They raised money for a plaque, which was placed in the park to honor Dave and all he had done for Penacook as a resident and city councilor. Losing the gazebo was a blow to those who knew and loved Dave, and there were many in Penacook. Every single person who knew Dave Poulin considered him a close friend.

In June, the Penacook Village Association formed a committee, Friends of Poulin Park, to rebuild the gazebo and provide amenities for the reshaped Poulin Park. The new gazebo will be fully accessible and will be a more durable design. The gazebo will have lighting for safety, and it will be decorated for major holidays.

In addition to the new gazebo, we want to install a seating wall to enclose the park, making it a safe spot for families to sit with their children while enjoying a sunny day. Although the park is small, it will be an enclosed haven to enjoy lunch, talk with friends and experience a green space right in downtown Penacook.

We feel that Penacook is ready for a bit of a renaissance. With a rebuilt Village Street, the tannery site being readied for development and talk of some other potential projects in the village, we believe the time is right to work on improving our community infrastructure.

Getting Poulin Park rebuilt properly will be just the first step. We’re confident that more will follow, we just need to establish a benchmark to prove that things can get done in Penacook.

To do all this – maintain Dave Poulin’s legacy, provide the center of Penacook with a focal point and get our community moving in a positive direction – we need your help.

We are seeking donations and will be selling engraved pavers to be installed in the park. We’ve established a web page (penacook.org/PoulinParkGazebo) to serve as an information source as we move forward.

If you remember Dave Poulin and would like to help us rebuild Poulin Park, visit our web page or send an email to poulinpark@penacook.org. All donations will be used toward the Poulin Park project.

Thanks, and take a trip to Penacook. We’re in a bit of a torn-up state right now, but we’d love to see you. By next year we hope to have a very different look. Come by now to check out the “before.” The “after” will be well worth another visit.

(Bill Smith is chairman of the Friends of Poulin Park Committee.)

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