Fund-raising Begins in Hampton, Hampton Falls
By Aubry Bracco
Hampton Union, Tuesday, May 12, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON FALLS -- Donations to support efforts to transform the Old Stage Road Bridge into a pedestrian way are now being accepted.
On May 15, 1997, Hampton Falls and Hampton were forced to close and blockade the bridge, which connects the two towns, after the state Department of Transportation (DOT) deemed it unsafe.
The Old Stage Road Bridge Committee, comprised of residents from both Hampton and Hampton Falls, has been working to transform the deteriorating bridge into a pedestrian way and bike path. Members of both communities passed articles at the 2009 Town Meetings to authorize the respective towns to enter into an inter-municipal agreement to move forward with the project.
The DOT has approved the bridge for use as a pedestrian way and both towns' boards of selectmen recently gave the Old Stage Road Bridge Committee approval to move ahead with cleanup and pre-construction plans as the inter-municipal agreement is being drafted.
With approval from the state and officials from both towns, Hampton Falls resident Judy Wilson said her committee is "going full steam ahead with fund-raising.
"If we don't get the money, (the rehabilitation of the bridge) is not going to happen," Wilson said.
Although a date is yet to be set, Hampton resident Nathan Page, also a member of the committee, said he hopes initial efforts to clean up the area will begin in late May or early June. According to Page, local youth service groups and Boy Scout troops are slated to lend a hand in the effort.
"We have to clean up any debris in the way, anything short of actual construction work," Page said, noting that the site has to be clear so construction equipment and personnel can work in a "clean, safe, environment" when construction begins.
Ultimately, the committee aims to protect the surface deck of the bridge with a covered walkway. According to the committee, the Old Stage Road Bridge will have "the only covered walkway in southern New Hampshire," if fund-raising goals are met.
"We're all in it for the same thing," Wilson said of the rehabilitation of the bridge. She said community members who are involved in the project are determined to preserve the "historical treasure" for future generations.
"We need to advocate for our kids and our town, and that's why I'm so glad Nathan has decided to involve youth groups," she said. "There is going to be a real sense of community involvement," during the clean-up effort.
Wilson also noted that other groups, including runners and bicycling clubs "want to see this (the rehabilitation) happen."
According to Wilson, both towns are accepting donations for the Old Stage Road Bridge project. Checks made payable to either town, should include memos designating that they are intended for the Old Stage Road Bridge.
Wilson said these funds will be set aside "in a special account earmarked for the bridge." All contributions are considered charitable contributions and are tax deductible.