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Downtown: Concord’s Durgin Block Parking Garage needs $3 million worth of repairs

The Durgin Block Parking Garage isn’t in great shape.

When the 467-space garage was built in the 1980s between Warren and School streets, the city didn’t have a plan to care for the steel and cement structure. Thirty years later, it’s in need of roughly $3 million in repairs.

“I don’t think the $3 million improvement was really on anybody’s radar screen and caught us, really, by surprise,” said Matt Walsh, the city’s assistant for special projects.

Now, city officials say they will not let that happen again. The city’s fiscal year 2014 begins today, and with it comes a change to the way the city manages parking. Walsh’s assistant for special projects position will be eliminated and changed to the director of redevelopment, downtown services and special projects.

“One of the things going forward with the change in my position is to develop a comprehensive capital improvement program for all of the parking assets,” Walsh said.

Those assets include the city’s three parking garages, as well as surface lots, on-street spaces and parking kiosks – “so we don’t run into the same situation we ran into with Durgin.”

Structural problems were discovered in the Durgin Block garage last year when the city planned to repaint its steel beams, which are chipped and rusting.

“When they starting looking at the structural steel to paint it, it was much more than painting that they needed to do,” said Dave Florence, the city’s parking manager.

Florence said the city hired an engineering company to study the garage structure. The result: about $3 million to fix it. Walsh said the cost includes rehabilitating the steel frames and replacing damaged portions of the concrete deck.

But those major repairs to the garage won’t begin until after the Main Street redesign project is completed in 2015, Walsh said.

“To have the Durgin Block garage and on-street parking on Main Street complicated at the same time would not work for the public and the merchants,” he said.

In the meantime, the garage is sturdy enough to hold cars – even if it appears to be in a state of disrepair.

“If it was in the structural condition that it was unsafe to be in there, they would go forward with the work or they would close the garage to parking,” Florence said.

Plans will also be developed for the city’s other two garages, Walsh said.

The Firehouse garage between North State and Green streets got new staircases last year, Florence said, and this year, the stairwells will be enclosed with glass to keep the snow out and rain.

“The weather is what really causes damage, so they’re going to close those (stairwells) off,” Florence said.

The Capital Commons garage is just seven years old, Walsh said, but a capital improvement plan will also be done for it in the coming years.

Spotlight on Main Street

Sample streetlights will be installed on North Main Street tomorrow to offer a glimpse of what is proposed for the Main Street redesign project.

The two sample lights will be in place for one week to collect feedback from residents, according to City Manager Tom Aspell’s weekly newsletter. They will be placed 60 feet apart in front of Citizens Bank.

City Engineer Ed Roberge said he hopes to get feedback about the light quality – color and brightness – that was designed specifically for Main Street. Residents can give feedback on the lights at
concordmainstreetproject.com.

Stars and stripes

Thursday is the Fourth of July.

Parking will be free in downtown Concord for the day, and city offices will be closed. The Concord fireworks show will be held Thursday night at Memorial Field and has a rain date of Friday.

Music from radio station WJYY will begin at 6 p.m., the Nevers Band will play at 8 p.m. and food vendors will be open all evening. The fireworks display will begin at 9 p.m.

Residents are asked to pay a $2 donation at the gate, according to Aspell’s newsletter. The donations will support next year’s fireworks show.

Also due to the holiday, there will be no curbside trash and recycling pickup Thursday. Thursday’s route will be collected Friday, and Friday’s pickup will be moved to Saturday, Aspell wrote in his newsletter.

Sounds of summer

The Concord Parks & Recreation Department is offering a free concert series this summer.

The Nevers Band will play at a different location every Tuesday evening. (Except this week, when they will play at the fireworks show Thursday.) Next Monday, they will play at the Kiwanis Riverfront Park next to Everett Arena.

Other concerts will be held Thursday evenings in Eagle Square. The Dusty Grey Band will play July 11, Lunch at the Dump will play Aug. 1 and the Natalie Turgeon Band will perform Aug. 15.

All concerts begin at 7 p.m.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or
lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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