Governor Maggie Hassan and other state, federal and local politicians got together at the Executive Health and Sports Center at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport to discuss the proposed development of land off an extended Pettengill Road.
The land is adjacent to the airport, described by officials as holding the potential of major business growth and job opportunities for Londonderry and the immediate region. Londonderry Geographic Information System Manager and Comprehensive Planner John Vogl told attendees at the discussion, titled “Working Together for the Future Economic Development and Infrastructure in Londonderry,” that the proposed road to connect the current Pettengill Road with the airport would bring both businesses and jobs to the area. The proposed road would go across two privately held properties.
“The road is designed to be a four lane road of 5,000 linear feet and will allow access to properties both north and south, and will go through and provide immediate access to about 700 acres of land and connect to the current Airport Access Road,” Vogl said at the July 18 event.
Vogl said the project already has the necessary permits and only awaits funding for construction. “We are convinced that this is the best development opportunity in southern New Hampshire. It has access to a market with 80,000 jobs, direct access to Manchester airport, Everett Turnpike and I-93,” Vogl said.
He said a recent economic study said it could support 10,000 to 50,000 additional jobs.
“The project is truly a public and private partnership, with the main road being constructed by the town, which is only the first step. Private developers will construct the internal roadway system,” Vogl said.
He said the development as far as the newly adopted 2012 Londonderry Master Plan states, will be a mixed use industrial village with campus-style development.
“The town has applied for $8.2 million in a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant for construction from the U.S. Department of Transportation for construction of the roadway,” Vogl said. Russ Thibeault, president of Applied Economic Research, who conducted a recent fiscal study on the project’s implications, said the project at build-out would “pay for itself,”
“In a nutshell, this is the most attractive business development in all of New England,” he said. “The project is feasible, it’s shovel-ready.”
Brian O’Neill, deputy director of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, said the airport owned 22 acres to the north of the proposed Pettengill Road extension and was a cheerleader for the project.
“This is probably one of the most important economic development projects in southern New Hampshire,” he said. “We’re very excited about the future development of Pettengill Road. When we talk to business leaders about coming to southern New Hampshire, we talk about Pettengill Road. This is what is going to bring us back. We’re here as a cheerleader, we’re here as a landowner and we’re here as a future benefactor.”
State Senator Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry said, “the town forefathers many years ago saw the wisdom of setting aside this part of town for commercial and industrial development. I think this is the time to really start planning. We are starting to come out of a terrible recession and we need to look forward to plan for the future. This is a golden opportunity not only for the Town of Londonderry, but for the region as a whole.”
Carson said the state is “getting old” and jobs were needed to provide young people an opportunity to come to and stay in the area. The governor said that she had signed off on the TIGER grant “so that everyone in Washington understands how important this project is.” She said last week’s meeting showed the importance to New Hampshire’s infrastructure of the Pettengill project.
“There is a growing consensus that investment in a modern and solid infrastructure is critical to our state’s future, and this is an example of that,” Hassan said. Acting Town Manager William Hart agreed, saying, “We can’t let this moment pass. There’s a lot of energy here, a lot of opportunity here.”
He said a lot of interest was being generated in the area and in the last few weeks, there had been a half dozen or more meetings with people who are interested and have money, vision, courage and ability to be part of the project.
“So the next step is that we can’t let this moment pass,” he said. “We in the town are going to give the (town) council options, and the private and the public partners that are here today need to listen, need to formulate their plans, need to participate with us as we develop and unlock the key to New Hampshire right there.” He said that someday, as a retired police chief, he would be able to drive his convertible through the area and say, “we did a hell of a job here on Pettengill Road.”