LITTLETON — The town of Littleton was one of seven New Hampshire communities recently awarded a grant from the state’s Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The $200,200 award is for the second phase of the planned Littleton Riverfront Commons and will go toward the development of a welcome center that will be housed in the red barn that will be renovated near the Littleton Area Senior Center.
The LWCF state and local assistance program is administered by the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation on behalf of the National Parks Service and provides 50-50 matching grants to outdoor recreation projects.
It is the third grant of $200,200 that Littleton has received in recent years, with previous grants going toward a new playground and improvements at Remich Park, as well as the acquisition of land for the first phase of the public commons that will be developed on the south side of the footbridge.
“In the last three years, the town has gotten $600,000 in LWCF funding from this agency,” Eric Feldbaum, administrator for the office of community recreation who oversees the LWCF state and local assistance program for the state of New Hampshire, said Thursday.
The first phase of the riverfront commons involves the purchase of a 7.5-acre parcel, construction of a parking area and an events area and landscaping.
Once the property, owned by Ron Murro, is acquired by the town, the second phase will involve the renovation of the existing barn structure into the welcome center with restrooms, the construction of a labyrinth garden area, the extension of the existing riverwalk, and a pathway connector to the abutting state recreational rail trail.
“Things have changed a little from phase one of the project and they’re still working on the amendment,” said Feldbaum. “They received a Northern Border [Regional Commission] grant as well, which was originally going to match the LWCF. It turned out now the town is acquiring more acres than originally proposed, and because of that, LWCF is going to handle the acquisition of the riverfront. This is phase one so the first grant will handle the acquisition and the Northern Border grant will handle the development of it, and then their new project that was just awarded includes the second phase.”
LWCF applications are scored on a competitive basis and must meet the goals and priorities set forth in the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.
Feldbaum spoke of what has made Littleton successful in its LWCF grant awards.
“The overall projects that Littleton continues to bring forth hit all of those priorities,” he said. “They put a huge emphasis — the North Country in general and Littleton as one of the hubs for this — on outdoor recreation tied to economic development. You see it in Littleton’s downtown, and this is just another opportunity to really link the outdoor recreation and the riverfront to the economic development of Main Street.”
The LWCF grants come with the condition that the property must remain an outdoor recreation area into perpetuity, something Littleton intends for the Riverfront Commons, said Feldbaum.
“By doing so, the town really is putting a priority for outdoor recreation knowing that this parcel will always be for outdoor recreation for the public’s use,” he said. “It checks the box for our number-one priority of connecting people to the outdoors, and number two, is stewardship and conservation. They have a plan in place to not only develop it today, but also steward it for the future, and that third piece is economic vitality.”
For Remich Park, in addition to its new playground, $200,200 grant awarded in April 2020 for the park will help pay for the demolition and reconstruction of a service building to include concessions, restrooms and storage, drainage improvements to the playing field, and resurfacing of a perimeter pathway.
“That project is in progress and the playground has been completed already,” said Feldbaum. “They are moving forward with the rest of the elements.”
Also awarded in this week’s round of LWCF funding was the town of Lancaster, which received a $180,180 grant to improvements at the Col. Town Recreation Department that will include the removal and replacement of playground structures and the construction of a picnic pavilion and pathways.