Seacoast United Requests Use of Hardardt's Way for Access

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, April 6, 2012

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- Seacoast United wants permission from the town to use Hardardt's Way as another access point for its indoor soccer arena on Winnacunnet Road.

Beal Associates, the engineering firm for Seacoast United, made the request to Hampton selectmen Monday night as owners are considering moving forward with proposing a major expansion project on the site.

Selectmen held off on making a decision to April 16 to allow time for department heads to weigh in on the matter.

The request comes after Paul Willis, executive director of Seacoast United, came before the Planning Board in January for a preliminary consultation about building a 52,000-square-foot basketball facility at the site. Planning Board members cited traffic as a potential problem. The only current access to Seacoast United is on Winnacunnet Road.

The use of Hardardt's Way was suggested as a possible way to alleviate those concerns.

Town Attorney Mark Gearreald told selectmen Monday night that if Seacoast United's property was adjacent to Hardardt's Way, all that would be needed is a driveway permit. However, Gearreald said, he does not believe that's the case because there is a gap between the right-of way on Hardardt's Way and Seacoast United's property.

"If there is no adjacency, and I don't think there is here, then they need rights to cross town property," Gearreald said.

Gearreald said that would require the owners to seek an easement under RSA 41:14a.

That process, he said, includes selectmen hosting two public hearing after it receives input from the Planning Board and Conservation Commission.

"I don't think the board should act on this but rather get opinion from department heads first," Gearreald said.

Selectmen agreed.

Selectman Richard Nichols said he also wants to hear from the town's Parks and Recreation department, noting the town has an outdoor hockey rink, skateboard park and football field on Hardardt's Way.

Willis previously said the proposed basketball facility would be run by a separate group, not Seacoast United. Tom Viviano, representing that group, said the facility would feature six basketball courts, locker rooms, a concession stand and a training room.

Willis said the club is also in talks with a medical office that may want to open a facility on the site. Seacoast United is also considering construction of a 16,000-square-foot indoor soccer field expansion at its current arena.

All the projects would need Planning Board approval.

Seacoast United also has a four-field outdoor soccer complex in Epping and runs programs at other indoor arenas, including Kingston and York, Maine. It has hundreds of soccer players in its programs from youth to semi-pro, competing regionally and nationally.