Back in June, the New Hampshire Legislature passed bill SB-38 that dictated $30 million from last year’s budget surplus be returned to cities and towns across the state; on July 28, a check was presented to the Town of Londonderry for $519,823 as a result. Up until now, it was unclear as to what the money would be used for.
At the August 14 Town Council meeting, Town Manager Kevin Smith presented the council with the idea of using the money to improve the intersection at Stonehenge and Route 28. Smith was told by the Department of Revenue and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) that the money can only be spend “in excess of what we’ve already budgeted.” Since the improvement of the intersection was not something that had been budgeted for this year, he felt it was a good place to invest the money.
When Smith met with the DOT and Executive Councilor Christopher Pappas to discuss this topic, they seemed very supportive of the idea and said that if the town had the money and the developer was willing to pitch in, the state would move the project up on their Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan and “make it a priority” since it had other sources of funding.
Smith met with the developer two weeks ago and they said they would be willing to make a payment in lieu of the offsite improvements that “they’ve been told they have to build.” The intersection at Stonehenge was a topic of contention regarding a multi-family development on Stonehenge Road. The developer, First Londonderry Associates, was told that in order for the site plans to be approved, the intersection and multiple other improvements would need to be made. Ultimately, at the March 18 planning board meeting, the project was denied but that decision was reversed one month later.
In order for the developer of the Stonehenge project to make a payment for the improvement of the intersection, the planning board would have to make an amendment to the current site plan decision.
With the money from the developer, the town would have to use all of the money from the SB-38 check to put toward the intersection improvement. Smith believes the project will amount to around $1.2 million, 50 percent of which will have to come from the state in addition to the money the town and the developers will put forward. The project would ultimately be a state project because Stonehenge and Route 28 is a state intersection, but the town will oversee it.
“We have our money, the developer is going to pitch in, now the state just needs to live up to their part of the bargain,” said Smith.
“As community leaders, we are looking to find creative way to help the community through some of the difficult situations that arise, and I think this is another example of that,” Chairman Tom Dolan said. “I think it might be a good effort on our part to see if Mr. Pappas can pull some strings at the state and with the DOT.”
The entire council agreed that Smith should move forward with this idea and contact the DOT and developer. They are optimistic that the project could be completed as early as 2019.