County to buy land in Concord for new superior court parking

  • The Merrimack County superior court in Concord will some relief from its current parking pressures when new spots are added. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

  • Two land acquisitions approved Friday by the Merrimack County delegation (green) would provide new parking in the area of the superior court. NICK REID—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 2/21/2017 5:49:52 PM

Merrimack County plans to add parking near the superior court in Concord by purchasing two plots of land on Pitman Street and Chapel Street.

The move would help the county provide enough parking for the aging superior court while its $15.7 million replacement is built on land that currently makes up the majority of the court’s parking.

About 80 parking spaces will be taken out of service during construction, which is expected to begin this spring and last as long as 18 months.

The plan, which was approved by the Merrimack County delegation Friday, calls for a Chapel Street house to be razed and Pitman Street to offer head-in parking. It will net about 30 new spaces, County Administrator Steve Marro said.

Marro said these acquisitions – in addition to the other arrangements the developer of the new court, The Duprey Company, has secured – will be enough that the county supplies all the parking it needs.

“That pretty much takes care of all our parking needs during construction,” he said, adding that the Veterans of Foreign Wars post next door also offered its lot for free.

Marro said the county expects to spend at most $300,000 to buy the house at 5 Chapel St., raze it and build a parking lot. That 0.12-acre parcel abuts the county-owned land at 4 Court St. and will add 18 to 20 spaces.

On Pitman Street, the county will spend $5,000 for a 2,013-square-foot right of way, Marro said. The pavement will be extended slightly north toward the court to make enough space so the current parallel parking spaces can be converted to head-in.

Functionally, Marro said, “Pitman Street doesn’t change, other than the fact that we’re adding head-in parking.”

State Rep. Dave Luneau, a Hopkinton Democrat who is chairman of the Merrimack County Facilities Committee, said the county’s delegation saw these acquisitions as a way to ease some of the parking concerns in the area.

“This move is clearly designed to help relieve that parking pressure, and it also helps to enable the county to meet its contractual obligation with the state to provide for 150 parking places at the superior courthouse location,” he said.

Marro said the plan will solve the court’s short-term parking woes, but long-term, he said, the county will have to keep its eyes open for other options. Activity at the court will only increase over time, he said.

“We’re good for four to five years, but we’ve got to be aware of our need going forward,” he said, adding that the county was interested in purchasing the VFW, “but the price is just through the roof.”

The courthouse was originally planned to be built near the state office complex across the Merrimack River. But a Concord-centric lobbying effort turned those plans around in favor of keeping the court downtown.

Although the county is exempt from local zoning procedures, Marro said he intends to present the designs to Concord planners regardless.

“We’re trying to make sure we’re meeting all the criteria for the city,” he said, noting that the county plans will be introduced to the city council next month. “It’s in their best interest as well as ours.”

The next milestone after that will be the groundbreaking, tentatively scheduled for May, but dependent on the weather, Marro said.

“If we get an early spring, which it looks like we may, they would definitely start earlier than May 1,” he said. “If they could break ground April 1, that would be fantastic.”

Marro added: “The warmer the weather gets, the more excited I get.”

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




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