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Joyce Endee

River District Commission moves ahead with development projects


July 29, 2021
LITTLETON — After a brief delay, the Littleton River District Commission is once again moving ahead with four significant fully funded projects, including the much-anticipated Riverfront Commons at the end of Riverglen Lane.

In 2019, town officials secured partial funding to purchase a 7.21-acre land parcel located on the south bank of the Ammonoosuc River, where the Littleton Farmers' Market is located. Last June, Littleton received an additional $575,000 in tax credits for economic development from the Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) for the project.

When completed, the Riverfront Commons will provide an additional fifty to eighty parking spaces for the downtown area and an expanded green space for the Farmers' Market. Direct access to the recently complete rail trail and a removable performance structure are also part of the plan.

Thanks to ongoing efforts by the Littleton Cultural Commission and Littleton Main Street, Inc., the area has already become an outdoor performance space, as seen at this summer's First Friday events.

Town officials have communicated with the Commission for quite some time about the various River District projects. According to Commission Chair John Hennessey, Littleton Town Manager Jim Gleason and Public Works Director Doug Damko have seamlessly picked up the projects after recent leadership changes. No changes have been made to the initial plans.

"The Riverfront Commons is waiting on an appraisal and a technical review, which is required by one of the federal funders that contributed to the project. Those requirements should be wrapped up this month, and then we'll move on to an RFP (request for proposal) for engineering this fall. Construction could possibly begin in 2022," stated Hennessey.

River District Commissioners have also met with Cultural Arts Commissioners to ensure the build-out would be optimal for any intended use of the 7-acre parcel, added the Commissioner.

While the majority of the roadway and parking improvements were completed on Ammonoosuc Street two years ago, a small portion remains on Saranac Street. When the final stretch of curb and paving are installed, the two million dollar project will be completed. Hennessey said that could happen either later this year or in 2022.

A third project also nears completion. Approximately 70,000 linear feet of rail were removed from the abandoned rail corridor that extends from Industrial Park Road to the Apthorp Commons. Gravel installation began last year, and the project was completed earlier this summer.

All that remains said Hennessey, is for state officials to install instructional signage along the new corridor. Although ATVs and dirt bikes are prohibited through downtown Littleton, snowmobile access is allowed during the winter months.

"The only remaining piece for us now is to determine if we want to apply a top layer of material that is more pedestrian and bike-friendly," noted Hennessey.

Yet another ongoing project is sidewalk improvements on Cottage Street and Mill Street, which includes a new walkway extending through the entire Mill Street corridor.

"We've been working with our engineers and the State to move that project forward to the engineering and construction phase. I am happy to report that the preliminary engineering is completed and will now move into final engineers. Construction could begin as early as 2022. We have not taken up anything new. The focus right now is to complete the projects that we already have in progress. They are quite substantial and occupy a lot of resources, and we certainly appreciate all of the efforts by the Town to get them completed," noted the Commissioner.

In its entirety, the River District development will cost approximately eight million dollars. Hennessey said the Commission had successfully funded five million thus far.

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