A Vision For Hampton's Future

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Teen Center, Library, Ideas at Charrette

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 25, 2007

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

HAMPTON -- Plan New Hampshire unveiled two different visions for a proposed government center on Saturday that includes a new addition to the library as well as a senior center on Winnacunnet Road.

The nonprofit organization spent the weekend hosting two public forums to solicit ideas before coming up with different plans on what should be done with the area.

"This is a starting point and a guide to where you may want to go," said Michael Castagna, president of Plan New Hampshire.

Both plans call for closing traffic from Winnacunnet Road onto Academy Avenue, demolition of the Old Town Hall and expanding the library and the current fire station.

They also call for improvements to Winnacunnet Road to curb speeding and establishing a town common.

The first plan includes renovating the existing Town Hall and adding more space by filling in the mezzanine on the second floor. The library would be expanded to include an area for a senior center while the Old Hampton District Court would remain where it is with a two-story addition to house a possible teen center.

The work on the courthouse would cost approximately $1 million while the new library addition with a senior center incorporated into the building would be around $2.1 million.

The second plan calls for relocating the court house farther back and constructing a new retail commercial property with offices on the second floor.

The public/private partnership would offset the costs of the project and provide additional space for town offices.

It also takes into account the need to expand and renovate Hampton Academy and to include a community center that would house the Parks and Recreation Department.

The old gymnasium (Eastman Gym) at the school would be renovated into a community center that would include a pool.

The total costs for both those projects combined would be roughly $9 million.

Castagna said it will be up to the community on what plan it wants to implement.

"It might be a hybrid with pieces taken from both plans," Castagna said.

Castagna said the town has opportunities to receive numerous grants to offset the cost of the project.

He noted the addition to the fire station should be the first priority, especially since it's most needed and will not add t

o the current tax base if the town refinances the police bond.

"This will give you the opportunity to look at other things like the library and senior center," Castagna said.

Plan New Hampshire selected the town's grant application for the two-day design charrette for town owned land back in May.

Plan New Hampshire is a statewide nonprofit community planning organization of planners, architects, engineers, landscape designers, builders and others who volunteer time and expertise to help communities engage in sound, community-based planning.

See the final plan (large PDF file).
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