It was, a year to remember. Here, in no particular order, are the topics Londonderry talked about in 2016:
Worth the wait?
The Londonderry Planning Board approved the site plan and took jurisdiction of the first phase of the Woodmont Commons mixed-use development.
The 600 acres on former apple orchard soil will encompass a retail center and “walkable downtown,” living units, a brew pub, an entertainment center and more. The expansion of the Market Basket plaza, with more parking and stores, was completed earlier this year. It was an early Christmas present for the developers, Pillsbury Realty LLC, when the project received conditional approval in the Planning Board’s Nov. 30 meeting.
While the developers still have 24 checklist items to complete, the overall plan was approved, with Chairman Art Rugg calling the meeting “an historic occasion.”
With the notable exception of Woodmont, residential housing was concentrated in the north part of town. Construction was begun on Wallace Farms, a 50 percent workforce housing project, on Perkins Road near Exit 5 to I-93. The 240 units will be spread among 10 apartment buildings on a 25-acre complex. Half the units will be designated as workforce housing.
Lorden Commons at 17 Old Derry Road will be the first Conservation Community in town, with 50 house lots developed in Phase I and 83 lots along with 147 acres of open space in phases 2, 3 and 4.
The burgeoning North raised some eyebrows among the School Board and administration, as they grappled with an already expanding population at the North Londonderry Elementary School.
In late fall Greenberg told the board the district has 4,442 students this year compared to 4,383 at this time last year and that the increase is 65 percent elementary, 20 percent middle-school and 15 percent high school. Of the elementary increase, 19 to 20 percent are first-graders. Moose Hill Kindergarten has 283 students compared with 239 last year, according to Greenberg.
In August he wrote a letter to the Town Council opposing a zoning change to land owned by Charles Evans on Rockingham Road. Evans was requesting that the town rezone a portion of his land from Industrial I to Residential III. Based on projections by GIS Director John Vogl, Greenberg posited that if a multi-family market rate complex were built, it would generate 37 students for the elementary/middle school level and 15 high-schoolers. A multi-family workforce housing complex could generate as many as 51 students for elementary/middle and 27 for high school. Greenberg wrote, “From an educational capacity view alone, the School Board opposes the zoning change.”
The Council indefinitely tabled the request for rezoning.
I-93 and Exit 4
A process that began back in the 1970s got its final impetus this past February when the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) signed a contract with both Londonderry and Derry for the Interstate 93 and Exit 4-A projects. The DOT took over responsibility for the projects and will begin construction after completion of an environmental study. Both towns voted to authorize the DOT to take over the project and to limit each town’s financial responsibility to $5 million. The towns’ shares are capped at $5 million after a lawsuit in the 1990s with Boston North, the original developers.
The exit has been proposed to alleviate traffic through downtown Derry and on Route 102.
DOT engineer Keith Cota said the estimated time for completing the environmental study was 18 months.
The estimated project cost is $57 million. Funding is part of the state’s 10-year transportation plan.
Changing of the guard
Longtime Superintendent of Schools Nathan Greenberg announced his retirement this fall, and endorsed the board’s choice for his successor, Assistant Superintendent Scott Laliberte.
Board chair Nancy Hendricks cited Laliberte’s “clear focus on student success, and he is considered a leader in the field of public education, with expertise in STEM curriculum and college prep for students.”
Laliberte serves on the New England Regional Council of the College Board as the New Hampshire representative, on the SNHU Academic Advisory Board, and the SERESC STEM Advisory Board.
Greenberg said of his successor, “Working closely with him each day, I have seen an unparalleled work ethic, a deliberate but decisive approach to challenges, and a cool head during crisis. In addition, Scott has extensive experience in curriculum development which will serve our community and our students well into the future.”
Laliberte assumes his new role July 1, 2017.
Greenberg, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., began his teaching career as an elementary school teacher in 1968 in Beacon, New York. He also taught middle school in Beacon. He began his career as an administrator in 1974 as an assistant principal in Simsbury, Conn. In 1979 he became principal of Hopewell School in Glastonbury, Conn., moving into the roles of Assistant to the Superintendent and Director of Elementary Curriculum. He served as Assistant Superintendent of Schools for SAU 16 in Exeter from 1983 through 1987. He accepted the job of superintendent in Somersworth in 1987, worked in the Portsmouth School District and in Arizona, and came to Londonderry in 2000.
He holds a master’s in education from State University of New York and a Professional Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Bridgeport. He and his wife Nancy live in Londonderry and have three children.
Greenberg was a leader in a 2005 lawsuit seeking to change the state’s education funding formula. In addition, Greenberg was the point person in 2015 when the district fought the Federal school lunch program and eventually removed the high school from Federal requirements.
The New Hampshire School Administrators Association, in conjunction with the American Association of School Administrators, named him New Hampshire Superintendent of the Year in 2008-09.
Dr. Mark Joyce, Executive Director of NHSAA, called Greenberg “a wonderful example of a true ‘Champion for Children,’ working tirelessly on behalf of the children and citizens of his communities.”
Development in Pettengill area
The town and some special guests celebrated the grand opening of Pettengill Road, the symbol and engine of Londonderry’s economic development. Three companies, FedEx, Milton CAT and UPS/Pratt Whitney, committed to relocating in the area. The area’s development is expected to bring 5,000 to 15,000 jobs, $200 million to $300 million of new assessed value, and $7 million of net annual property taxes. The roughly 1,000 acres of industrial land are situated near the airport and major highways, making it prime for development.
Construction began in summer 2014 and involved building 4,000 feet of road and 8,000 feet of sewer systems, most of which was funded by developers and landowners.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, then-Rep. Frank Guinta and then-Gov. Maggie Hassan were among the dignitaries attending the opening.
Plans for 300th
Along with Derry and Windham, Londonderry has begun preparing for the 300th anniversary of “Nutfield,” the colony established by the Rev. James MacGregor in 1719. The three towns were part of the original settlement. Plans call for each town to hold its own town-specific festivities, with the culminating event being the Londonderry Old Home Days in August.
The March election
In the March election, incumbents John Farrell and Tom Dolan won their Town Council seats back, with Ted Combes losing to Dolan by 119 votes. Kathy Wagner was reelected Treasurer on write-in votes after a slip-up left the position off the ballot.
Parent and college professor Jenn Ganem won the open School Board seat from incumbent John Laferriere, 1,135 to 689.
In uncontested races, Christine Patton and Donald Moskowitz were elected to the Budget Committee; Bob Saur was elected Town Moderator; John Curran, Robert Collins and Pauline Caron were re-elected Leach Library Trustees; Cindi Rice Conley was elected School Moderator; Mary Wing Soares was elected School District Clerk and John Conley was elected School District Treasurer.