Hudson Changing Forever
by Doug Robinson and Lynne Ober
Mixed use brings mixed reaction, but everyone agrees that Hudson will change forever with the sale and development of the 375 acre Green Meadows property.
At the end of Tuesday night’s presentation, Selectman Richard Maddox, who is the Selectmen’s liaison to the Planning Board, read from a prepared statement to the standing room audience, which began “Over a year ago, the Board of Selectmen assembled a team to be the Town’s contact for the Green Meadow project. … and at the request of the Friel family and the developers, ”we were asked to keep this project confidential.”
Board of Selectmen Chairman Ken Massey introduced Attorney Thomas Jay Leonard, Chief Counsel for the Friel family. Leonard said that after a long process, the Friel family had chosen S. R. Weiner W/S Development to design, develop, and manage the project. “The goal is to introduce and start the process for this project.”
Bob Frazier, Senior Vice President of Development, characterized the project as mixed use with open space. “This is a more complex project than some that we’ve done.”
Frazier drew a verbal picture of the project that included public access to the river with paths for biking, hiking and jogging along the river. There will be an up-scale retail area housing shops and boutiques such as William Sonoma, Sur La Table, Coldwater Creek among others. The retail area will include restaurants, some outdoor cafes, entertainment areas, such as an open space for outdoor concerts, sidewalks with attractive landscaping and benches for relaxing. Askin said the light poles would be 12 feet tall.
“Local artisans and artists can take advantage of the outdoor arenas,” stated Frazier.
Office space might be included, but designer Richard Askin, certified architect who is designing the project, admitted that office rentals are very flat right now.
Although both Askin and Frazier talked about residential use, the preliminary map of the project did not show any residential units.
The project may include one or two hotels. Two were shown on the preliminary map. One would be a garden style hotel along the river.
Frazier talked about the seventy projects in New England that his company had done before introducing a 10-minute infomercial video.
The video, shot on site at Derby Street Shoppes at Hingham, Massachusetts and Shoppes at Farmington Valley in Canton, Connecticut showed business owners, residents, and elected officials, who gave testimonials about the quality of the S. R. Weiner and W/S Development projects.
As soon as the video ended, Askin walked the audience through the details that had already been designed.
As part of this development, Askin stated that there would be “no cost to the Town of Hudson” for the roadwork, which may consist of two access ramps off Hudson’s Sagamore Bridge will filter traffic onto the “Route 3A By-pass Connector Road. We’ve had preliminary discussions with New Hampshire Department of Transportation personnel that was favorable to this idea.”
“The development needs highway access and it needs visibility and we don’t want to put the traffic onto existing streets, causing traffic problems,” said Askin, who pointed out that the proposed by-pass road would not flow into 3A until well past the development and south of Dracut Rd.
Off the new “By-pass Road” will be a road that will meander its way through the development. “This will be a divided, tree-lined boulevard blending land use and traffic,” stated Askin.
“We want this [development] to have a Village feel,” both Askin and Frazier said. “We like to think of it as a lifestyle center experience. Part plaza, part street, part recreation, part sidewalk.”
They characterized the development as a waterfront district. “The development will have an orientation to the river,” explained Askin, who noted that the property had a gentle roll down toward the river.
The development will be divided into separate sections in order to expand upon the village concept. Green space will be left in the middle of the common and Askin said that in some of the other developments ice skating rinks are built in the winter.
His conceptual drawing with the Merrimack River in the forefront, showed boat docks in the water and a possible amphitheater that Askin likened to Tanglewood, where musical entertainment could be offered in the summer.
At the south end of the development, a large green buffer space was proposed because there is an established community abutting the property.
Frazier wrapped up the presentation by stating that their goal was to minimize demand for services on the town’s infrastructure, such as schools. He cited the need for additional police officers, fire fighters.
“We are just at the beginning of this process,” said Leonard. “Where do we go from here? We have a date to make an introduction, perhaps more detailed, to the Planning board. We will hold workshops and seek resident input. We expect that total development may take fifteen to twenty years.”
After the presentation, Selectmen took a break so that the room could clear.
Conservation Commission Member Jim Battis said, “The devil is in the details. It looks better than it could be.”
Sixteen year Hudson Bob Guessford said, “It was different than I expected. This could be a good thing if the property is planned and executed well.
However, both Colleen Varney and Gena Hunt who live near the development both expressed concern. “Change is scary, but I liked the country feel and that will be gone forever,” said Varney. “Why do we need another mall? There’s a big one just across the river.”
Budget Committee member Ted Luszey wondered how the development would get water and would handle its sewage. “There’s a lot to be worked out that they didn’t even touch tonight.”
The proposed presentation to the Planning Board is 12/7/05.
New Highly Qualified Teachers Mandate Upsets Teachers
by Maureen Gillum
Many teachers are outraged and or panicked about the No Child Left Behind’s requirement regarding “Highly Qualified Teachers,” both locally and nationwide.
After recent New Hampshire Department of Education (www.ed.state.nh.us/education) directives, it’s clear all New Hampshire elementary school teachers will need to pass a content-knowledge exam to attain HQT certification by June 30 (see HQT: New Hampshire Update and Hudson School Board’s Response, Hudson~Litchfield News, 11/18/05, page 10). To quell teacher’s HQT anxieties, New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Tracey Lyonel also said guidelines for a test alternative, called the HOUSSE (Highly Objective Uniform State Standards of Evaluation; likely portfolios) plan are expected in December and pledged to assist all staff making “a good faith effort” toward HQT requirements.
Beyond the stress and time required, Hudson teachers will likely be burdened with HQT test costs, if exams remain New Hampshire’s only option. For example, the Praxis II can cost up to $140, including a study guide ($25), registration cost ($40), and the two-hour test fee ($75), according to Educational Testing Services (www.ets.org). The 120-question multiple-choice test also contains questions ranging from interpreting sonnets to using the Pythagorean theorem – arguably, content atypical in elementary classrooms and with little connection to truly being a “highly qualified” teacher.
“The human impact of this is big, and Hudson’s rank and file teachers are upset,” commented Sandi Blanchard, who retired three years ago after 30 years as a fourth grade teacher at Dr. H.O. Smith Elementary School. Blanchard’s daughter, Amy, a young Derry teacher, anxiously purchased a study guide and software to prepare for the exam. “The core strength of Hudson teachers has always been their heart and dedication,” noted Sandi, “and that can’t be measured by any test.”
Take the senior third-grade team at Nottingham West Elementary School, Jane Fucci, Laura Lind, and Ann Groves, who were interviewed at a recent enrichment luncheon. These longtime Hudson residents are living examples of educators with lots of heart and dedication. NWES’ “Three Musketeers” have shepherded roughly 2,400 kids through Hudson schools in the 96 years they’ve collectively taught here. They are widely considered among the town’s finest and most beloved teachers.
As with most Hudson teachers, the three veterans conscientiously go above and beyond their professional development requirements and dutifully pay for their state re-certification -- $130 every three years. “After all of our experience, training, and class management, exactly when did we become not highly qualified teachers?” questioned Lind. “It’s personally insulting, and I’m seriously considering retiring a year or two early,” stated Groves, who has taught in Hudson for 31 years, “and I’m not alone.”
Furthermore, the grade-three team agrees -- it’s not HQT alone or any one of the multiple student assessments -- but the cumulative impact of all of the current high-stakes accountability that is hurting education today. While such assessments may fulfill some NCLB directives to “measure progress,” do they actually promote or hinder real education? Do exams, like the Praxis II, determine who has solid skills as an educator or can meaningfully relate to a child as a good teacher? Everyone knows some evaluations are necessary. However, many believe the substantial and increasing time, effort, and money spent on today’s mega-assessments could be better invested in the curriculum and teaching students.
“We’re increasingly buried under the paper work, red tape and evaluations of assessments,” said Fucci, “which robs us, and our students, of crucial instructional time and direct student support.” For example, the NWES team recapped the fall assessments they have governed since September: three weeks of the New England Common Assessment Program (new 10/05; administered annually Grades 3 - 8); writing prompts (fall, winter, and spring); non-fiction assessment (quarterly; began 2004/2005); fluency testing (three tests per child); reading test theme; a 10+ unit math assessment; and Gates MacGinitie reading tests (fall and spring). “We all still love to teach,” the three collectively concluded with frustration. “We just need more time to actually do it!”
Many Hudson teachers were also very appreciative of the school board’s support and adopted statement regarding HQT at the November 7 meeting. Essentially, the board “encouraged,” but made no demands for district teachers to become HQT; they also cited there are presently “no repercussions” for failing to meet HQT classification. “It was nice to hear that they recognized the HQT assessments for what they are, and what they are not,” said Groves. The third-grade team also agreed: it’s important the school board and administrations stand by their staff members through this.
NCLB and its non-funded HQT mandate will continue to have a far-reaching impact on education at the local, state and federal level. As Ginny Lunt, a fourth grade teacher at Hills Garrison and Hudson Federation of Teachers President, was “still trying to learn how this all impacts us,” she wisely had ‘no comment’ yet on HQT. “Everyone certainly wants qualified teachers, but I'm not sure that all of this will necessarily determine that,” Lunt added, “I guess time will tell how it all plays out.” The extent of NCLB’s intended educational reform will not likely be fully assessed for years, if not decades.
Toys for Tots Dinner Sold Out Again
by Lynne Ober
Hudson VFW Post 5791 hosted another successful Toys for Tots dinner. “Everyone works really hard on this event,” said Commander John Cesana. “It seems like every year there are more and more people who need help.”
The event was sold out again. This year King’s Court catered a roast beef dinner with apple crisp for dessert. “They knew it was for Toys for Tots, and they gave us a really good price,” said Cesana. “They’ve been great to work with.”
Marine Major John Fischer, retired, and Sergeant Edwin Jose attended the event. Once again, they told of increasing requests for assistance. “The economy is really hurting people this year.”
Before dinner attendees sipped beverages and viewed the many raffle items. VFW members sold raffle tickets. “We’d like to thank all the sponsors who donated raffle items,” said Cesana.
The Vietnam Veterans Association at the state prison made wooden trains. One was being raffled off and one was being auctioned off. “We’ve discovered that these trains raise a lot of money for the Toys for Tots program. We provide the work and the prisoners really do an excellent job in crafting them,” said Fischer.
Included in the evening’s affair was a silent auction. The items ranged from signed Hollywood memorabilia to mountain bikes to Christmas decorations and everything in between. Brenda Gora, VFW Auxiliary President and Chairman of this event, ensures that quality raffle items and silent auction items are available. The first thing people usually do is grab a beverage and check out the items.
National Honor Society Inducts New Members at Campbell High School
The Passaconaway Chapter of the National Honor Society held its induction ceremony November 17 in the Campbell High School auditorium. Current members walked new inductees into the ceremony. Officers spoke eloquently on the four principles of the National Honor Society: character, scholarship, leadership, and service. New members then had their candles lit and received their membership emblems.
Eleven new members were inducted this year: Rachel Bucci, Sarah Chuckran, Michelle Corf, Scott Deschene, Samantha Guertin, Joshua Matte, Andrea McMaster, Tara Rossetti, Jessica Streitmater, Kristina Tiernan and Andy Towne.