Manchester Common renovation to begin Feb. 18  

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff file photo. A project to renovate Manchester's Town Common and remove diseased trees begins next Tuesday. The work may periodically block the front doors to Town Hall, but the side doors will be open.

MANCHESTER — The town common revitalization project outside Manchester Town Hall is set to begin next Tuesday, Feb. 18.

Access to Town Hall's front door will be limited at times during construction, according to a notice posted on the town's website.

The bottom-floor side door located on the east side of the building will remain open. Stairs and elevators are available to access the main floor. 

"It's always good to see town projects get closer to the finish line," Town Administrator Gregory Federspiel of the common renovation. "We received a lot of input from the community and I think a lot of people will be happy with the final product."

The goal of the project is to rejuvenate the hardened land in front of Town Hall, 10 Church St., into a healthier green space. A survey from Manchester Tree Warden Tom Henderson last summer revealed every tree but the linden tree next to the police station are either dead or diseased and not expected to last another 10 years. 

The first order of business will be to replace the old gas and water pipes to Town Hall and Seaside One, 14 Church St. Afterward, Wolf Landscape Architecture of Groton will come in to cut down five of the common's trees: three magnolias, a maple and a crimson maple. In their place, 11 or 12 new trees and shrubs will be planted. The linden and elm toward the center of the common will remain.

Financing for the project began at the spring town meetings in 2017 and 2019, where a total of $115,000 in Community Preservation Act funds to re-landscape the entire common was approved. In addition, $32,200 in donations from members of the community was collected. 

Town Meeting this past November approved another $255,000 CPA allocation for a second round of proposed improvements. Along with the new gas and water lines, this second round secured money for a handicap ramp to the front door compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, eco-friendly paver walkways that allow storm water to drain to the earth below, steps on the side walkway to the Police Station and reproductions of  historic lighting fixtures.

Tentatively, the project is expected to be completed "before the summer season, around Memorial Day," according to Federspiel. Around that time, the common's veterans memorial will be updated to a privately-funded honor roll display featuring the names of Manchester veterans.

The new memorial is independent of the revitalization project and has not received funding from the town. Although no installation date has been set, Federspiel said he's "trying to get that coordinated" with one of the memorial's organizers. 

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or


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