July 10, 2009
Bedford Council tours Goffstown for ideas

GOFFSTOWN - The weather was not perfect, but the Bedford Town Council held a meeting outside recently anyway.

The councilors, along with some members of the Bedford Village Common Development Committee, walked through a new park in Goffstown to look for inspiration and lessons for the common’s development as plans for the Bedford park move ahead.

“It just gives an idea of what can be done, as far as the common is concerned,” Town Councilor Bill Dermody said about the walk-through.

The park, Abingdon Park, is part of a multi-use development spearheaded by the TF Moran engineering firm. It is open to the public but is not owned by Goffstown, and the president of TF Moran, Robert Cruess, and his wife, Anne, the landscape engineer, have been maintaining it. Eventually the park will be turned over to a community association, after townhouses and other retail stores are built in the development, which already includes a Rite-Aid. Anne Cruess will also be designing the Bedford Village Common.

“It’s a classic park,” Cruess said of its design, which is based on a park in Greenwich Village. “You give this thing three years, it’s really going to be fantastic.”

The park is based on one in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan, Cruess said. It is not totally complete, with some details still in the works, but Cruess said he and the community are very pleased with its development.

“The park just feels good,” Robert Cruess said.

Many of the councilors and committee members pointed out that both parks are or will be located on a busy road – Abingdon Park is on a heavily- trafficked stretch of Mast Road in Pinardville, while the common will be located on Route 101.

“I think you have more traffic on 101,” said Town Councilor Normand Longval. He said he did not think traffic would be a problem for the common,“just as long as no one parks on 101.”

He said parking considerations, as well as how to use the town resources and develop surrounding areas to best benefit the park, are important factors.

“This is what it’s all about, integrating everything so we can make it happen,” he said. Beverly Thomas, the chairman of the Bedford Village Common Development Committee, thought the trip was worthwhile.

“I think this is beautiful. It’s a great space on a busy road,” she said.

Deb Sklar, a member of the committee, said the visit will help deal with some people’s concerns about the common’s location.

“We can easily answer concerns about why a park on 101. I mean, here’s a park on a really busy street,” Sklar said.

Vice chairman of the Town Council, Bob Young, pointed out that both Bedford and Goffstown have similar goals for including parks in a town center. Though Bedford will not pursue any strip malls on Route 101, he said that they are seeking some similar multiuse development and similar retails establishments near the park.

“We’re trying to solve a similar problem. Maybe differently in the details,” he said.

He said he thought the experience with Abingdon Park would be useful for TF Moran when developing the Bedford Village Common.

“Hopefully he can bring some of the lessons learned to Bedford,” he said.

Abingdon Park is about acre, including a section in front of the Rite-Aid, Cruess said. The part of the Bedford Village Common under development now is 6.2 acres.

“The scale is a little different,” Anne Cruess said, but she added that there are similarities. “We’re taking a very busy road and we’re changing the character by putting in something beautiful.”


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