Turn old gas station into park?
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, February 12, 2010
[The following articles are courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Patrick Cronin photo]
HAMPTON -- Selectmen recently decided to look into the possibility of the town acquiring the vacant site of the former Shell gas station on the corner of Lafayette and Winnacunnet roads.
The board decided this week to have Town Manager Fred Welch determine whether the company would like to donate the property located at 349 Lafayette Road to the town.
"It would not to be used for business or anything of that nature, but to take the building down and simply make it a green spot in that area," said Welch, who brought the idea to the board's attention at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 8.
The property — which is on the market for $300,000 — has been vacant since the Shell shut down its station in 2006 after 35 years of operation.
It's currently surrounded by a chain-linked fence to keep people out due to contamination from an underground tank that leaked and is being monitored by the state Department of Environmental Services.
"I know Shell wants to sell it because it's currently on the market for a substantial amount of money," Welch said. "Nobody wants to pay it because the recordation against the property for prior contamination on the site."
Welch told the board he recently met with officials from state and the Rockingham Planning Commission, who noted there may be some federal funds the town could pursue that would pay to monitor and clean up whatever contamination is left on the property if, in fact, the town took it over.
Welch said this may be an opportunity for the town to take over the property, tear down the building in order to beautify the area.
Selectman Bill Lally spoke in favor of pursuing the idea.
"This has been a real eyesore," Lally said. "I think if there are funds to do it, then why not. That area is the gateway to Hampton, and right now its a mess."
Selectman Richard Nichols said he's in favor of pursing the idea, but questioned whether it was worth losing the tax money it currently collects from Shell as owner of the property.
Selectmen Jerry Znoj was the only selectman against the idea saying he would like to see another business move into the location.
"I look at that location as prime real estate on Route 1," Znoj said. "The only value to us is a green area with some trees."
Welch said he doesn't believe the site will be purchased in the near future.
"My fear is the battleship-gray paint (which is on the building) will stay there for a long time," Welch said.
He also noted the property will lessen in market value if and when the intersection of Lafayette and Winnacunnet roads is reconfigured in the future.
The Route 1 Corridor Study recommends the squaring off of the intersection and the elimination of the spur road along side the Galley Hatch restaurant.
"Right now there are four potential turn radii (coming off) the property," Welch said. "Once that intersection is reconfigured, you lose at least two of those radii. It will be difficult to run a business there."
Selectmen Chairman Rick Griffin said it wouldn't hurt to ask if the company would donate the property.
"At the very least, let's see if they would tear down the building," Griffin said.
Shell says thanks, but no thanks to town offer
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, February 26, 2010
HAMPTON - The Shell Gas Company is not interested in donating its land to the town in order to create a public park on the corner of Lafayette and Winnacunnet roads. Town Manager Fred Welch told the board that it appears the company is only interested in selling the property located at 349 Lafayette Road. "They are just not interested in giving it away," Welch said. "I left them with the understanding that if they should reconsider their position, then the town would be willing to discuss accepting it as a donation." Officials had hoped the company might donate the land to the town because the area in question is contaminated and has been on the market for a long time. The property - which is being sold for $300,000 - has been vacant since Shell shutdown its station there in 2006 after 35 years of operation. It's currently surrounded by a chain-link fence to keep people out due to contamination from an underground tank that leaked. The site is being monitored by the state Department of Environmental Services. Welch got the idea to ask for the land after discovering the town could be eligible to receive federal funds that would pay to monitor and clean up whatever contamination is left on the property. One of the reason why it hasn't sold, Welch said, is because whoever purchases it will be responsible for the monitoring the contamination.