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Stop Sprawl
Fall 2000 Sprawl Report

States at a Glance: New Hampshire

Downtown 2000
(Peterborough)
River Walk Connects Downtown
Manchester Airport
Road Project Threatens Eagle Habitat


Downtown 2000
(Peterborough)
River Walk Connects Downtown

The residents and local officials of Peterborough recognize what makes a community thrive: A rich pedestrian environment, a strong central core and beautiful, green surroundings. As part of Downtown 2000, they are trying to achieve those goals using smart-growth techniques.

For communities seeking to reinvent themselves, one of the most potent tools in the smart-growth tool kit is an old-fashioned one -- zoning. Many towns and cities are actually zoned to prevent smart-growth development that, for instance, places apartments near stores.

Peterborough is seeking changes that will concentrate economic development in the downtown area and make it more pedestrian friendly. By building a walkway under an existing highway bridge and creating a river walk to better connect downtown businesses, the city will provide those on foot with a safe and appealing means of getting around. Downtown 2000 will help create a more livable community by adding landscaping, pocket parks, planters, trees and a garden to the town's core.

Peterborough is also paying attention to the buildings that form the core of downtown by creating a Heritage Commission to protect historic structures. In addition, town officials are discussing how to keep civic buildings, like the post office, downtown.

Peterborough's Downtown 2000 plan demonstrates that communities with vision aren't waiting until sprawl has gotten unbearable to take action -- they're thinking about the future today.


Manchester Airport
Road Project Threatens Eagle Habitat

A proposed four-lane road and bridge across the Merrimack River will destroy wetlands and key habitat while increasing traffic and sprawl. The project, meant to ease access to Manchester Airport, will severely impact 100 acres of underground aquifers, 36 acres of farm land, 18 acres of floodplain and 23 acres of a designated state park.

It will also allow urban sprawl to invade 1,000 acres of undeveloped land and fragile wildlife habitat. All for a cost of $75 million. The lower Merrimack River, which would also be harmed by this project, ranks second only to the Great Bay Estuary in importance as wintering habitat for bald eagles in New Hampshire.

Travelers landing at Manchester's airport currently have few choices except to drive. While the bridge plan does call for a bicycle lane, a bus, light-rail or other type of public transportation would probably be more useful to people carrying suitcases. To add insult to injury, an existing rail bed at the airport was recently destroyed to expand the runway.

Fortunately, there are smart-growth alternatives to the new bridge that environmentalists can support. Widening and improving Brown Avenue and the I-293 bridge would minimize environmental damage, while bringing public transportation to the airport would ease congestion.

States at a Glance | Introduction | Resources | Acknowledgments


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