Long-Term Planning was the Only Agenda Item – Part Two
August 12, 2016
by Len Lathrop
When you leave off a summary of a meeting with talk about sewer and that capacity in town, it is tough to get things flowing again. But, as Elvis Dhima told the selectmen’s special meeting on Aug. 2, development in Hudson should not be controlled by the water and sewer infrastructure or the lack thereof.
Well, past the half-way point of the meeting, Chairman Luszey was able to steer the conversation toward other parts of town government and what is needed. The discussion, as reported last week, had focused a major amount of the time on traffic, mostly the Lowell Road corridor and the always discussed “circumferential highway” to take the traffic from the Sagamore Bridge to Route 111 and the traffic in other directions.
Is the town hall complex on School Street meeting the need of the taxpayers and the staff who are there every day? From all reports, keeping the town running for 25,000 residents has seriously stretched the seams of the town hall complex. From the department heads who are based there, the first thing talked about seemed to be that there is just no room. No room to service the residents when they are there for business with the town clerk relative to motor vehicle registrations, tax bills or just to keep their fur babies’ licenses up to date, or in other sections of the complex, pay their water and sewer bills people waiting have to stand in the hallway. These shareholders of Hudson block staff’s ability to get to another section of the building, which was pointed out as a concern.
Two department heads questioned the current air quality in the building. They mentioned during the meeting that there are 10 heating units in the combination of the original building and the addition, and it is supported in the summer by eight air conditioning units. Lisa Nute, the head of Information Technology, mentioned that when a computer is open there is a lot of dirt inside the machine. Town Clerk Patty Barry explained that much of the required permanent storage of public records must be kept at a Nashua facility, where retrieval is time consuming and several boxes have been lost.
If a new municipal complex is needed, then where could it be located? Again, remember we are looking at a 25-year plan. Several spoke about the Benson property that is off of Route 111 (Central Street). It is what Planner John Cashell refers to as the original center of Hudson. As Chairman Luszey mentioned, a plan for a municipal complex like this would take 10 years to put together, and at that time, the Central Fire Station with the renovation currently happening, would be ready to be repaired as its life expectancy would be used up.
As the ability to do projects at Benson was presented as a stumbling block, long-time Road Agent Kevin Burns spoke rhetorically, asking if the deed to Benson that seems to hold everything in bay is only a paper and couldn’t it be renegotiated. “The State of New Hampshire has had Hudson residents build a state park there (Bensons) and the residents of Hudson have paid the tab,” stated Burns. When the state finally granted permission to build the Senior Center/Cable Television Center there, the NHDOT asked for another $87,000 for property that the town had already bought and paid for. While the highway department was able to do in-kind work to mitigate the fee, it was still the taxpayers of Hudson paying the way. Burns then pointed to the road system that the state designed, with traffic dumping off of Route 3 via the Sagamore Bridge and becoming a Hudson traffic problem. It seemed like most people in the room wanted to clap.
As the night was getting late, while it wasn’t a closing remark, it seemed important when Chairman Luszey told the staff that they were the long-term leaders of this town who hold the future in their hands; the selectmen are only short term and serve at the will of the voters.