policy and Issues
Changes Made For Nashua
- Our Focus With Nashua's Children
- Nashua's Millennials and Gen Zers
- A City For Every Generation
- Our Inclusive City
- Nashua Safe Stations
- Our Big Focus On Street Paving and Other Infrastructure Improvements
- Passenger Rail Service – Economic Development
- Jobs – Economic Development
- New Housing Choices – Economic Development
- Nashua’s Downtown and Economic Development
- Jim’s Open and Accessible City Government
- Our Well-run City and Recent Accolades
- Agenda on the Environment and Energy
- Nashua’s Green Spaces
- Our City on the Rise
Our Focus With Nashua's Children
Of greatest concern to Jim is the well-being and success of every Nashua child. He believes that great schools and a caring community can make a big difference in outcomes for our children. According to Jim, Nashua must aim to provide an excellent education for every child, at every school, every day in Nashua. And as he sees it, educational excellence in Nashua’s schools is an important aspect of the city’s economic development blueprint. Jim’s efforts on behalf of Nashua’s children include:
- Expanding full-day kindergarten across all of Nashua’s twelve elementary schools.
- Opening the Arlington Street Community Center adjacent to the Dr. Crisp Elementary School with programming to address the literacy gap for improved student learning and to promote stronger families in a healthier Crown Hill neighborhood.
- Engaging the community and planning the comprehensive Nashua Middle School redesign project to ensure educational excellence in our 6th, 7th, and 8th grades by rebuilding or replacing the Elm Street Middle School, making needed improvements both at Fairgrounds and at Pennichuck, and urging our school district and BOE to add more challenge to the middle school curriculum so that Nashua offers the best middle school education of any district in New Hampshire.
- Participating in the start-up of the Meals for Kids project, which served 25,000 meals to Nashua’s children during 2018.
- Launching a summer youth jobs program for rising high school seniors featuring paying jobs in a number of city departments.
- Kicking off the Mayor’s Winter Reading Challenge which was held over the past 2018-2019 winter months to encourage reading and vocabulary building among Nashua’s elementary school children.
- Signing on as a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of more than 1,000 U.S. mayors dedicated to protecting their communities from the threat of gun violence and to building a safer society. Also, working with Moms Demand Action-NH, our state’s chapter of the grassroots action network focused on the fight for life-saving gun safety reforms.
Nashua's Millennials and Gen Zers
According to Mayor Jim Donchess,
“Much of what I work on as Mayor of Nashua is aimed at attracting Millennials to our city and at keeping them here. Young adults and young families are looking for a hometown where affordability and livability are equally important. So my efforts on behalf of these Nashuans include the work I am doing to bring fresh, new housing choices to the city, my drive for excellent schools, my support for commuter rail service between Nashua and Boston, the Performing Arts Center project, the city’s work to address climate change, the VeoRide bike-share and e-scooter-share programs, the Nashua Riverfront Development Plan, my encouragement of and support for the Nashua Farmers Market, the NuMuse and New England Roots live music festivals, the Nashua Pride Festival, the public art installations of Positive Street Art as well as the numerous parades, walks, races, and other celebrations throughout the year in the center city. This generational cohort has a very important role to play in Nashua. Our Millennials are absolutely crucial for the future success of our city.”
Jim also has his eye on Nashua’s rising demographic cohort of Gen Zers – loosely, our young people between 9 and 24 years of age. The mayor’s focus on these young Nashuans includes the following:
- Support for great public schools in Nashua.
- The installation of two rectangular playing fields for soccer and lacrosse at Charlotte Avenue Elementary School.
- The recent installation of a futsal court (“soccer-on-pavement”) in the Tree Streets neighborhood.
- Nashua’s public transit system, which provides convenient and affordable Citybus transportation for young people to Rivier University, the Nashua Community College, and jobs and on which a young Nashuan Louis Cole, on his way to his workplace on Amherst Street, was recently the system’s 10 millionth rider.
- Early in Jim’s term, the installation of the world-class David W. Deane Skatepark, which this past summer offered skateboarding camps for children from ages 7 through 13 under the leadership of Nolan Munroe, an X-Games Bronze Medalist and current Rivier student.
- In its early planning stage, the major Library Plaza Renovation Project, which will include an inviting new playground for Nashua’s children.
A City For Every Generation
Contributing to the city’s inclusive character are the many community efforts to ensure that Nashua is and remains a great place at every age. Jim’s focus on seniors includes the following:
- Nashua’s elderly property tax exemption – historically the most ample and senior-friendly in New Hampshire – was recently expanded again to help enable the city’s qualifying seniors to stay in their homes.
- Nashua’s continuing support for the Nashua Senior Activity Center.
- Jim’s recent convening of the first annual Senior Summit at which Nashua’s older generation was invited to gather for discussions of issues of concern.
Our Inclusive City
“We are the state’s most diverse community, a city built by waves of immigrants. We also take enormous pride in being the state’s most inclusive city, and we value every Nashuan, whether she or he is a long-time resident or a foreign-born newcomer to our city.”
Jim’s initiatives to promote Nashua’s character of inclusion include:
- Together with the Board of Aldermen, the designation of Nashua as a Welcoming City, an initiative aimed at uniting the entire community in fostering an inclusive civic environment in which all Nashuans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or place of origin, are welcome, integrated, and thrive.
- The designation of Mysore, India as Nashua’s Sister City aimed at promoting cultural and commercial ties between our city and Mysore, a city of over 900,000 in India’s southwestern Karnataka state, where many Nashuans of Indian-American descent have familial connections.
- Together with a host of community activists, participation in President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative aimed at addressing persistent opportunity gaps faced by our disadvantaged children and ensuring that all of our children can reach their full potential.
- In the tight FY20 budget year, Jim’s proposal for the city to employ new ELL teachers to work with Nashua’s English language learning school children.
- The establishment of the annual Nashua Pride Festival to promote Nashua’s culture of equality and inclusion and to joyously celebrate greater Nashua’s LGBTQ community.
Nashua Safe Stations
From the earliest days of his administration, Jim has been focusing on the opioid addiction public health crisis in our community. Jim’s initiatives include:
- Convening the multi-disciplinary Mayor’s Opioid Task Force to coordinate the projects and initiatives of Nashua’s anti-opioid community as well as the city’s response to the opioid public health epidemic through improved communications, a common system of measurement, and a continuum of care model applied to the many crucial prevention, reduction of harm, treatment, and recovery approaches undertaken in the community to reduce opioid misuse, overdose, and fatality.
- Together with indispensable city and community partners – Nashua Fire Rescue, Nashua Public Health, AMR, Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, and Harbor Homes – launching the now nationally recognized Nashua Safe Stations program, which to date has helped more than 3,000 persons, who are seeking to enter treatment and pursue recovery for substance misuse.
- Nashua Safe Stations results since its November, 2016 launch – overdoses in the city down by more than 20% and fatal overdoses down by more than 40%.
- Epidemiological data indicating that a person who seeks help from the Nashua Safe Stations program is 65% less likely to suffer a subsequent nonfatal overdose than someone who has not accessed the Safe Stations program and 89% less likely to suffer a subsequent fatal overdose.
Our Big Focus On Street Paving and Other Infrastructure Improvements
Jim’s administration has put a major focus on the city’s infrastructure – the substantial upgrading and maintenance of Nashua’s streets as well as the development of multi-modal transportation choices for Nashuans. As he sees it, a keen interest in and steadfast focus on the city’s infrastructure are essential to the city’s economic development strategies. Jim’s infrastructure projects and accomplishments include:
- The $41.5M citywide, multi-year Paving Plan of Action to dramatically improve the overall condition of the 300+ miles of Nashua’s streets – 9 miles of city streets paved in 2016, 14 miles in 2017, and 25 miles in 2018; 31 miles of paving planned for 2019.
- Strong advocacy before the New Hampshire State Legislature in support of commuter rail service between Nashua and Boston as an important component of Nashua’s economic development agenda.
- Plans to add charging stations at the Elm Street Parking Garage to facilitate Nashuans’ growing use of electric vehicles.
- Improved bike friendliness with the VeoRide bike and e-scooter shared transportation programs and with the Main Street bike lane installation planned for 2019.
- Increased walkability with the $1.25M grant to extend the downtown rail trail eastward from Main Street to Temple Street.
- All-season walkability and accessibility in French Hill with the $1M grant to widen and rebuild sidewalks on Lock Street.
- An extension of the life of the city’s landfill by 10-15 years by securing Department of Environmental Services licensing for Phase 3 of the Four Hills Landfill capital improvement expansion project. The Phase 4 DES licensing process to extend the landfill life by an additional 40-50 years is currently underway.
Passenger Rail Service – Economic Development
Mayor Jim Donchess is a strong advocate for commuter rail service between Nashua/Manchester and Boston. During the current 2018-2019 legislative session, Jim gave public testimony before both the State Senate and the House of Representatives on Senate Bill 241 in support of the use of existing federal funds to complete the critical Project Development phase of the NH Capitol Corridor Rail Expansion Project. This phase, recently enacted into New Hampshire law, is intended to provide detailed engineering, environmental, and geotechnical analyses as well as deliver a firm financial plan for expanding passenger rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester.
According to the following data, the rail expansion project enjoys wide-ranging bipartisan support across the state:
- A recent Saint Anselm College Survey indicates that that 75.5% of New Hampshire residents from every political party, gender, age, educational level, ideology, and county of residence support the expansion of passenger rail service (survey of April 3-8, 2019), and
- More than 110 statewide businesses have indicated support for the project as well.
In addition, the rail expansion project will deliver significant economic benefits to our city as well as to the state as detailed in the 2015 NH Capitol Corridor Study:
- 5,600 permanent jobs,
- 3,400 construction jobs to build the real estate development projects triggered by rail,
- 1,700 new jobs every year beginning in 2030,
- 3,600 residential units to support new workers,
- 1.9 million square feet of commercial real estate as a by-product of rail expansion,
- $750 million in real estate investment between 2021-2030, and $220 million in reinvested worker earnings added to the economy beyond 2020.
Jobs – Economic Development
Mayor Jim Donchess and his Economic Development team are keenly focused on creating a business-friendly climate that attracts new businesses to the city, encourages expansions of existing enterprises, and adds new jobs to Nashua’s economy. Under Jim’s leadership, the city stands ready to assist and nurture Nashua’s businesses whenever it can. Jim and his team are also exploring how state and federal tax incentive tools to encourage economic development can be utilized in Nashua. In addition, workforce development programs and support for local entrepreneurship are of great importance to Jim’s administration.
Some recent examples of jobs creation and economic development in Nashua are as follows:
- Jim recently welcomed Amazon to the city at the internet retail giant’s new delivery station at 10 State Street, the company’s first location in New Hampshire. This facility will eventually employ nearly 400 people as well as spur the growth of new jobs with its local delivery service partner, ABC Package Express.
- At a city-owned building on Crown Street, New Hampshire’s first and largest makerspace MakeIt Labs is booming with new members and entrepreneurial activity.
- The city has recently begun a partnership with the nonprofit Entrepreneurship for All to jump-start the creation of new businesses and new jobs in Nashua by offering a rigorous, one-year program of skill-building instruction and small business coaching to an initial class of around 20 highly motivated, ambitious, self-disciplined individuals, who mostly are underemployed, low-income, and moderate-income self-starters. The city is actively assisting EforAll in its fundraising efforts and has directed CDBG funds to the program.
- For the South End, Jim proposed and the Board of Aldermen created an Economic Revitalization Zone under a New Hampshire program that is designed to encourage economic development and that provides state tax credits for incremental new jobs created within the designated zone.
- For our downtown, Jim proposed and the State of New Hampshire designated two Federal Opportunity Zones in two low-income federal census tracts in Nashua’s center city neighborhoods. Under this federal program that was part of the Tax Cuts Act and that is still being rolled out, private investors can defer taxes on capital gains that they reinvest in the designated Opportunity Zones. When they maintain long-term investments for over 10 years in the Opportunity Zones, additional capital gains earned on their low-income neighborhood investments will be exempted from federal taxes.
- Over the past 3 ½ years, the city has welcomed and encouraged several new and established employers, which have brought hundreds of new jobs to Nashua including positions at BAE Systems at its Canal Street and Spit Brook Road facilities, Prudential Supply on Simon Street, White Birch Brewery on Amherst Street, Boston Billiards on Northeastern Boulevard, Pfeiffer Vacuum at Trafalgar Square, and Terrafugia at the Nashua Airport.
- The Nashua Technology Center at Gateway Hills in Nashua’s South End is home to numerous technology firms where hundreds of people have become employed in recent years including employees at such early stage, Flatley Challenge winning businesses as TendoNova, Xogo, XenoTherapeutics, and Datanomix.
New Housing Choices – Economic Development
When Jim ran for mayor in 2015, he promised to work with the private sector to bring more than 500 new units of market-rate and affordable housing to downtown along with almost 1,000 new downtown residents. With several downtown projects fully completed or nearly constructed, Jim has already accomplished this ambitious goal. But with a less than 2% vacancy rate, Nashua continues to have a tight market for rental housing. Exciting plans for a second wave of new downtown housing are underway. Highlights of Jim’s housing agenda include:
- Lofts 34, the mill-to-housing conversion on Franklin Street, which has brought 200 fresh, new, modern market-rate units to Nashua’s downtown.
- The Marshall Street Apartments project at Marshall and East Hollis Streets, which is bringing 150 new units of affordable, workforce housing to the city’s downtown.
- A freshly envisioned residential neighborhood in our downtown east of Main Street – the newly dubbed Rail Yard District – near Temple and East Hollis Streets, which will include new, from-the-ground-up apartments on the former Corriveau Routhier site as well as fresh, new, modern units in a reconstructed, revitalized Henry Hanger building for at least 150 units of added new housing and hundreds of new downtown residents.
Nashua’s Downtown and Economic Development
“Downtown Nashua – Main Street, the Millyard, and the nearby residential neighborhoods – is the heart of our city and contributes to our unique urban identity. It’s where our community gathers for entertainment, dining, celebrating, and shopping. When we’re downtown we’re always reminded of our rich and vibrant history. It’s even where our two famed rivers meet. A re-energized and revitalized downtown is critical to the quality of life we offer and essential for Nashua’s overall success. A top goal for me as the Mayor of Nashua is the cultivation of a 21st century arts, cultural, and residential neighborhood in our center city. That’s why we are focused on downtown.”
Jim’s efforts to transform our downtown include:
- Working hard to make the city’s long-dreamed of Performing Arts Center a reality, an important cornerstone for the future of Nashua’s downtown, which will annually bring 70,000 visitors to Main Street together with their spending dollars for entertainment, dining, and shopping.
- Beginning implementation of the Nashua Riverfront Development Plan to revitalize and beautify the downtown segments of the Nashua River including the installation of riverside walkways, enhanced access to the waterfront, and new landscaping, lighting, and green spaces.
- Encouraging the private sector’s several projects to bring over 500 new units of market-rate and affordable housing to Nashua’s downtown neighborhoods.
- Strongly advocating commuter rail service between Nashua and Boston as an important component of the city’s economic development agenda.
- Together with Great American Downtown (GAD), moving the Nashua Farmers Market – enlarged in 2019 with several fresh new vendors – onto a more central Main Street location.
- Together with GAD, introducing new annual events such as the NuMuse and the New England Roots live music festivals onto Main Street.
- Together with the New Hampshire Symphony, bringing the annual summer Dancin’ in the Streets dance party to the front of City Hall.
- Establishing the annual Nashua Pride Festival to promote Nashua’s culture of equality and inclusion and to joyously celebrate greater Nashua’s LGBTQ community.
- Conducting a participatory budgeting project in Ward 4 with a decision-making process driven by local residents, which is bringing a futsal court (“soccer-on-pavement”) to the Tree Streets neighborhood during the summer of 2019.
- Reinvigorating the historic Central Fire Station building on Court Street with the craft brewery Liquid Therapy and a suite of artists’ studios.
- Enhancing downtown walkability with the extension the rail trail eastward from Main Street to the Henry Hanger site on Temple Street.
- Encouraging the move of the city-owned water utility – Pennichuck Water – from the Town of Merrimack to a new headquarters location in the “courthouse oval” off of Main Street.
- Warmly welcoming the relocation of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission to 30 Temple Street in the city.
Jim’s Open and Accessible City Government
“I love meeting and talking with Nashuans at their homes, at their businesses, on our city streets, and in our cafes. I meet someone new almost every day. In these energizing conversations and at our lively forums I listen and I learn so much about our people’s concerns, and this helps me think about what we should try to do to make a better city. I also enjoy informing our people about the projects and programs we are undertaking in Nashua.”
Jim’s commitment to an open and accessible city government is a hallmark of his approach to municipal leadership. Throughout the year Jim holds public forums to encourage civic engagement and dialogue between the city and our citizens. These include:
- Jim’s participation most weeks in the “Mondays-with-the-Mayor” segment on WSMN with radio host George Russell.
- An annual Town Hall in each of the city’s nine wards.
- Monthly “Coffee-with-the-Mayor” gatherings at JajaBelle’s Main Street café.
- Occasional “Beer-with-the-Mayor” gatherings at the various small batch local breweries that have sprung up over the past few years in Nashua.
Our Well-run City and Recent Accolades
“New Hampshire has the highest reliance of any U.S. state on property taxes – more than 65% of all state and municipal tax collections – for the governmental services it provides to its citizenry. Because of this, one of my most important tasks as Mayor is to strike the right balance between our local property tax levy and the delivery of high-quality services that the people of Nashua expect and deserve.”
Jim and his Economic Development team are always focused on the expansion of Nashua’s tax base – projects, programs, and strategies to attract new businesses to the city, to encourage expansions of Nashua’s business enterprises, to facilitate a variety of new housing options in revitalized neighborhoods, and to welcome and assimilate a wide diversity of new Nashuans.
Since taking office, Jim has proposed four fiscally responsible city budgets despite significant budgetary difficulties such as additional pension funding downshifting by the state retirement system and the increased cost of health insurance for city employees, both major fiscal challenges beyond the city’s control.
Jim is proud of the recent accolades Nashua has received including:
- 13th rank on WalletHub’s 2019 list of Best-Run Cities in America
- Money Magazine’s 2018 Best City to Live in New Hampshire
- 38th Safest U.S. City to Raise a Child on SafeWise’s 2019 list
- 34th Safest U.S. City to Retire on Security Choice’s 2018 list
- 9th rank on WalletHub’s 2018 list of Best-Run Cities in America
- Niche’s Best Place for Millennials in Hillsborough County, 2018 list
- Niche’s Most Diverse Place to Live in New Hampshire, 2018 list
- A top rank for Least Crime in Mid-Sized Cities on Best Places 2018 survey
- WalletHub’s 2017 Safest City in America
- State Art Commission’s 2017 Arts Award for Creative Community
- The Nashua-Manchester region as the 19th Happiest Place in the U.S. on National Geographic’s 2017 ranking
- One of the 50 Best Cities to Live in America on 24/7 Wall St.’s 2017 list
- 16th spot on Money Magazine’s 2016 list of 50 Best Places to Live in America
- 10th place on WalletHub’s 2016 list of Best-Run Cities in America
- New AAA bond rating from Standard and Poor’s (in addition to our AAA bond rating from Fitch)
Agenda on the Environment and Energy
Under the leadership of Mayor Jim Donchess, Nashua is aggressively pursuing municipal energy cost savings through numerous green energy initiatives that utilize energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Nashua is also embarking on meaningful projects and programs to demonstrate our city’s commitment to accelerating progress on climate change. Jim’s initiatives and accomplishments on the environment and energy include the following:
- With recent Aldermanic approval and in partnership with ReVision Energy and the Conway Arena, moving forward with an exciting solar initiative to place solar arrays on the Lake Street Fire Station, on the city’s bus garage on Riverside Drive, and on the Conway Arena on Stadium Drive.
- Early in his mayoralty and together with the Board of Aldermen, the conversion of all Nashua street lights to LEDs for energy cost savings to the city of $400,000 per year.
- Together with more than 400 U.S. mayors – including several from New Hampshire, signing on as a member of the Climate Mayors network, a coalition formed to pledge the commitment of American mayors to the Paris Climate Agreement and to demonstrate their leadership in fighting climate change, lowering carbon emissions, and creating a 21st century clean energy economy.
- Together with the Board of Aldermen, establishing a new volunteer committee within Nashua city government – the Environment and Energy Committee with a mission to recommend energy efficiency projects aimed at energy cost savings for the city.
- Together with the Board of Aldermen, approving the E and E Committee’s recent statement of goals – a 25% reduction of carbon emissions from Nashua’s municipal buildings, school department facilities, and other city infrastructure by 2025, a 25% reduction of carbon emissions from Nashua’s municipal vehicles by 2025, and an overall goal for the City of Nashua to derive 100% of the energy required to power the municipal system and the school department from renewable, clean energy sources by 2050.
- In 2017 completing the buy-out of the remainder of the long-term lease of the Mine Falls hydroelectric dam with the aim of improving efficiency at the three-megawatt facility and selling the generated electricity on the grid for an offset of the city’s electric expenses.
- Continuing advocacy before the New Hampshire State Legislature for environmentally progressive legislation on net metering, especially HB 365 in 2019 to increase the amount of renewable energy that facilities such as Nashua’s two hydroelectric dams – the Mine Falls Dam and the Jackson Falls Dam – can sell back to the grid from one megawatt to a new limit of 5 megawatts of generated renewable energy.
- Improved bike friendliness with the VeoRide bike and e-scooter shared transportation programs and with the Main Street bike lane installation planned for 2019.
- Improved walkability with the $1.25M grant to extend the downtown rail trail eastward from Main Street to Temple Street and with the $1M grant to widen and rebuild sidewalks on Lock Street.
- Support for solar as the renewable energy power source for a new middle school in southwest Nashua in the likely event that the Joint Special School Building Committee recommends this new construction in the near future.
- Delivery of two new electric-hybrid buses scheduled for the fall of 2019 to supplement the eight CNG-powered buses which the city put into service in 2017.
- Plans to add charging stations at the Elm Street Parking Garage to facilitate Nashuans’ growing ownership of electric vehicles.
- Plans to hire a highly qualified professional for the newly created position of City of Nashua Energy Manager whose responsibilities will include designing projects to transition the city to green energy sources of power and to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
- The Nashua Police Department headquarters project to replace windows and the HVAC system for significantly improved energy efficiency.
Nashua’s Green Spaces
“Americans spend a great deal of time on their homes – the front yard, the back yard, the private zone. But the public realm, what all citizens own together, has a collective value that is essential to the quality of life of a community.”
Jim’s efforts to support and initiatives to create new green spaces and places for recreation, celebration, play, and repose in Nashua include the following:
- For Nashua’s children and young people who love the games of soccer and lacrosse, the installation of two rectangular fields at Charlotte Avenue Elementary School.
- For Nashua’s skateboarding athletes, the 2017 installation of the state-of-the-art David W. Deane Skatepark, which this past summer offered skateboarding camps for children from age 7 through 13 under the leadership of Nolan Munroe, an X-Games Bronze Medalist and current Rivier student.
- For all who love our namesake river, beginning implementation of the Nashua Riverfront Development Plan to revitalize and beautify the downtown segments of the Nashua River including the installation of riverside walkways, enhanced access to the waterfront, and new landscaping, lighting, and greenways.
- For residents of the Tree Streets neighborhood, the Ward 4 $25,000 participatory budgeting project, which featured a decision-making process driven by local residents and which brought a futsal court (“soccer-on-pavement”) to the neighborhood during the summer of 2019.
- For everyone who wants to get out on the Merrimack River, whether by kayak or canoe or small motor boat, the $400,000 Greeley Park Boat Ramp Improvement Project with a design that will include a new access roadway from the end of Hills Ferry Road to the river, full accessibility, 24 abutting parking spaces with a layout to accommodate trailers, revegetation within the 32 acre site to prevent damaging use by all-terrain vehicles, and a wooded walking trail.
- For Nashuans seeking a refreshed and relaxing green space or a charming downtown children’s playground or an engaging public art installation downtown, early stage planning for the major Library Plaza Renovation Project.
Our City on the Rise
- Imagine Nashua 2040 City Master Plan
- Nashua Performing Arts Center
- Greeley Park Boat Ramp Renovation Project – Merrimack River
- Nashua Riverfront Development Master Plan – Nashua River
- Middle School Redesign Project
- Downtown Dog Park
- Nashua Library Plaza Renovation Project
- City of Kindness
- Rail Trail Extension Eastward from Main to Temple Street
- Rail Yard District Project – More Eastside Livability