Littleton Downtown Improvements Advance

In Littleton's river district, Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail seeks to add a top layer to the new recreational trail through downtown to make it more bicycle-friendly. (Courtesy photo)

LITTLETON — Downtown and river district projects are advancing, and a new development includes making the new recreational rail-trail more bicycle-friendly with a hard surface, a proposal being requested by a bicycle group expanding its trail system across the North Country.

This week, John Hennessey, chairman of the River District Redevelopment Commission, issued a written update on the rail trail, Riverfront Commons, the Cottage Street and Mill Street sidewalks reconstruction, the situation at 25 Ammonoosuc St., and Main Street reconstruction Phase II.

For Riverfront Commons, the 7-acre parcel owned by Ron Murro on the south side of the footbridge by the Littleton Area Senior Center, Hennessey said the Yellow Book appraisal required as the requirement of a grant helping to fund the project appears to have met reviewer requirements, and the town and Northern Community Investment Corp. are working on signed approval and moving to next steps to acquire the property.

Residents at last year’s town meeting authorized a town share of $175,000 toward the total $800,000 commons project that will establish a town commons to provide green space and space for events and recreation.

As for the rail trail, the Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail group is interested in obtaining funding to apply a top layer to the new section of rail-trail between Redington Street and Industrial Park Road to improve trail usability, said Hennessey.

“They didn’t believe the trail was in an appropriate condition and weren’t going to put it on a list of trails that they have on their maps,” Littleton Town Manager Jim Gleason said Thursday.

The remaking of the former railway into a recreational trail was a state-funded project and the town was just involved in some of the clearing and grading, he said.

Cross New Hampshire Trail is seeking more of a gravel hard surface as opposed to the loose surface there now that Gleason said makes it difficult for skinny tire bikes and even fat-tire bikes.

The trail group has expressed interest in seeking additional funding sources from the state, and the town will be letting them take the lead on that project, said Gleason.

The $1 million Cottage Street/Mill Street sidewalk project remains on track to have its final engineering and design completed by this fall, when a request for proposal for construction should also be complete, said Hennessey.

Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2022.

The $1 million Cottage-Mill project is being funded with a 20-percent town share and 80-percent federal grant, and 80 percent of the project funding is for Cottage Street.

The issue at 25 Ammonoosuc St., owned by Jessica Griffiths, of Bethlehem, under the name of Ammonoosuc LLC, involves a damaged building foundation that the property owner claims were the result of reconstruction work on the street.

A joint meeting was held in July and the parties involved agreed to a plan for resolving the issue and are awaiting the resolution, said Hennessey.

In the meantime, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which provided a grant to the town to help fund the reconstruction, allowed an extension until Dec. 31 so the town can continue negotiations with all parties to try to reach a resolution satisfactory to all, so that the project can be completed as designed, he said.

To date, the issue has not gone to court and an agreement was made by the three parties to come up with a plan to address the building and foundation and determine who is liable and who will pay for it, said Gleason.

The town has an engineer, a construction firm was enlisted for the reconstruction of streets and sidewalks, and the property owner has an engineer.

The town was the funder of the roadway and sidewalk reconstruction, but didn’t design it, said Gleason.

The question now is if the property owner will view it as a fix to the foundation, estimated at about $80,000, or, the way the lot is configured, take a broader view of almost a redevelopment of the foundation, with the building coming down and doing a refit and potentially changing the sidewalk and roadway through that, he said.

“It’s somewhere between $80,000 and $280,000 based on whose solution you agree with,” said Gleason.

Right now, it seems to be a decision between the engineer and the construction company that followed the plans, he said.

The 25 Ammonoosuc St. issue has led to a stuck project for more than a year.

Main Street reconstruction Phase II, from the Littleton Diner to the Meadow Street and Saranac Street intersection, could have new potential federal grant funding opportunities, said Hennessey.

Gleason will look into the grant conditions that apply and if the town will need to provide a match. He could present his findings to selectmen in late October.

It is a total project of about $6 million to $7 million when roadway and sidewalk reconstruction, and water and sewer infrastructure and other improvements are included.

Design and engineering will take a few years before Main Street Phase II begins construction.

Since the river district and downtown redevelopments began about a decade ago, funding for the different projects has been largely provided by state and federal grants with smaller town shares.

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