The Manchester, NH Urban Open Space Website
ABOUT THIS WEBSITE ABOUT NEW HAMPSHIRE ABOUT MANCHESTER
IN SPRING, 2013, NORTHWEST MANCHESTER'S HACKETT HILL OVER-DEVELOPMENT THREATS APPEAR "ON HOLD"! Atlantic white cedar swamps at risk!
GO DIRECTLY TO LATEST HACKETT HILL DEVELOPMENT PLANS - JUNE ,2010 - SEPT, 2012
OVERVIEW: OUT-OF-CONTROL RESIDENTIAL BUILDING PROJECTS AND A "NORTHWEST BUSINESS PARK" REFLECT A "GREEN VS GREED" SITUATION AND CAUSE MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS!
The Hackett Hill area is located in Manchester's northwestern corner, in Ward 12 of the city. As shown on the map, it borders on Hooksett and Goffstown. A once-quiet semi-rural area - in recent years, it has seen a drastic loss of open space. Land clearly appropriate for animal habitat and animal corridors has been instead approved by City planners for large housing complexes.
Of major importance is the location of the new houses, apartment buildings and condominiums. They are/will be situated directly north and northwest of a unique, highly protected 600 acre swamp complex - The Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve.- an ecological preserve that is owned and managed by The New Hampshire Nature Conservancy.
The Preserve contains many interesting components - the most valuable of which (as shown on a webpage by the Natural Heritage Bureau) are Atlantic white cedars and giant rhododendrons.Yet the extensive blasting involved in this development has given no consideration to highly likely effects on swamp hydrology.
To add insult to injury, there is currently a plan to construct a large business-industrial complex on City-owned land on the opposite side of the Preserve. The construction plans are centered around remnants of a failed 1970s attempt to develop the property. (The visible components of this long-ago debacle are a set of "phantom parking lots" at a high point on the property's interior and an "access road" leading to them).
The "new"plan, which actually surfaced nearly a decade ago, calls for extensive deforestation and blasting, as well as the construction of buildings, parking lots and roads. Major components of the building complex may lie within a swamp watershed. Also completely ignored is the fact that the swamp uplands are habitat for a wide variety of large and small mammals and numerous bird species. Some regard has been paid to the presence of vernal pools in the area,(thanks to the EPA), but nevertheless the pools may not remain functional amidst the extensive construction that is planned.
Importantly, the complex will draw much additional heavy traffic to an area already overwhelmed by traffic concerns - namely Route 3A and Hackett Hill Road.
Clearly, the placement of a business-industrial park in this location demonstrates extremely poor city planning. Under an EPA mandate, the City of Manchester has spent millions of dollars to establish and protect the Preserve. Moreover the land slated for development has been used for many years for educational purposes by the NH Audubon Society and UNH Manchester. It should now become primarily protected land and serve as a "buffer" or "surrounding natural landscape" for the Preserve.
It is interesting that the single existing building at the property's periphery, originally home to UNH-Manchester, substantially enhances the entrance to the land slated for development. The building, which has been enlarged in an environmentally-conscious manner, houses a research-development company (JPSA). It's appearance suggests that a limited number of similar buildings, whose occupants are also concerned with research and development, might be permitted in this same general area, in lots not directly adjacent to the Preserve.
The major portions of the land slated for development are highly appropriate for environmental education purposes and could also furnish passive recreation opportunities for Manchester residents. These activities, together with a reasonably-sized "research park" campus, would not cause a noticeable increase in the horrendous traffic problems in the region.
Fortunately, plans for a "business park" on Hackett Hill are currently "on hold", although another threat - the possibility of the construction of a prison on the property, has recently surfaced. Moreover it should be noted that regardless of which type of development occurs, it is only considered to be "Phase 1" of the land owned by the City that is directly adjacent to the Preserve. Additional unprotected land to the south/southwest has been designated as a "Phase 2" development area and could be equally problematic.
HACKETT HILL PRESERVE-DEVELOPMENT AREA
The GIS map below shows the location of the TNC Preserve, some of the current and planned residential development to the Preserve's north, the planned Phase 1 and Phase 2 development areas, the Manchester-Hooksett and Manchester-Goffstown borders, the location of Hackett Hill Road - the only access route leading to the above-mentioned residential and phased development-planned areas - and a number of other landmarks.
Unlabeled map courtesy of Peter Steckler, NHTNC
1 = Junction of Route 3a and Hackett Hill Road; 2 = Current fire station; 3 = JPSA and surroundings; 4 = PSNH powerline; 4a = PSNH powerline; 5 = Access
Road to parking lots; 6 = "Phantom Parking Lots"; 7 = Planned development (Phase 1); 8 = Planned development (Phase 2); 9 = Countryside Boulevard
10 = Residental development; 11 = Approximate entrance to TNC trail system; 12 = Dunbarton Road
TNC = fully protected land comprising the Manchester Cedar Swamp Ecological Preserve
The Nature Conservancy has produced a new app (Nature Near You) that is available from iTunes. The app has been placed in the travel category. It provides information about the many TNC-protected areas throughout the world. The Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve on Hackett Hill is included and can be reached via an icon placed near Manchester on a world map.
The app, which is free, provides road maps and written directions to the protected sites, so the 1.8 mile TNC Trail off Countryside Boulevard can be easily reached. The app includes detailed information about the Preserve, as well as some excellent photographs, and answers the question.... "Why is this land special?"
The history of the Preserve, i.e., how it was obtained from the City of Manchester, is presented in some detail, including reference to the "phantom parking lots" as having a ghost town feel!
A built in camera provides opportunities for capturing and sharing photographs.
The image is a screen shot.
HACKETT HILL ACTIVITY (2010-2013) Part One
Beginning in June, 2010, development plans for a Hackett Hill "Business Park" shifted from dormancy to frenetic activity, and became linked to the construction of a new fire station.
In 2011, a contrast in activity occured on Hackett Hill as JPSA's building renovation/research forged ahead while the City's business park/fire station plans bogged down.
In early 2012, a private prison was proposed for Hackett Hill. Despite near-immediate reaction from city planners and strong opposition from the public, the prison plans remain unsettled. Residents of the Hackett Hill area should remain vigilant since the plans may resurface in the near future!!
In late summer of 2012, the need for a new Hackett Hill fire station was realized and work on it is underway. Part Four explains the revival of plans to build the fire station and events related to this project.
Visit YouTube for videos of the fire station as its construction proceeds. Part Five (coming soon)
In the early spring of 2013, plans for the location and construction of NH prisons are being considered by NH legislators. More information on this topic will be posted here in the near future.