An unprecedented eight projects earned Merit Awards of Excellence this year. At the annual Awards Dinner, this year at the Derryfield Country Club in Manchester, the following were announced:
Allenstown Community Center. Owner: Town of Allenstown. When the Boys and Girls Club needed a new space, as did the Senior Center, groups and individuals came together to make it happen. The new community center is in the heart of the town, walkable from school, homes and businesses, and is used by many, many groups.
Manchester Police Athletic League (MPAL) – renovations to the Michael Briggs Community Center. Owner: Manchester Police Athletic League. This was the 2016 project for Building on Hope, which selects a non-profit property every two years to revitalize. Months of preparation and fundraising resulted in a 10-day marathon of transforming a run-down facility for at-risk youth to a neighborhood gem that kids, police and community are proud of.
Merit Awards of Excellence:
River’s Edge Apartments, Laconia. Owner: Laconia Area Community Land Trust. This project replaced dilapidated mill buildings on the Winnipesaukee River with apartments for lower-income community members. Readily accessible to downtown and Union Street amenities, it is a shining star for Laconia.
The Flats @ Hanover Commons, Manchester. Owner: Elm Grove Companies. This team took the bold step of creating New Hampshire’s first micro-apartments for the millennial workforce. It has its own café and other conveniences, and downtown activity and jobs are within easy walking distance.
Jim Mitchell Community Park, Warner: Owner: MainStreet Warner. A slope-challenged, underutilized open area in downtown Warner has been converted to a multi-use open park, complete with covered stage, amphitheater seating and more for farmers markets, artists and musicians, and the enjoyment of all.
New England Sweetwater Farm and Distillery, Winchester: Owners: Robert Patton-Spruill and Patti Moreno. 79-E and lots of hard work revitalized some empty buildings in downtown Winchester for “an unlikely business in an unlikely place.” The tasting room (where one can sample Ashuelot Vodka, or Monadnock Moonshine, for example) has brought thousands of visitors to this old mill town, and has been a catalyst for its economic re-birth.
Merit Awards with Distinction:
Access Portsmouth: Owner: JSA Inc When people in wheelchairs come to Portsmouth, it’s not easy to find what restaurants are accessible to them. This team has created a program (website and pending app) so visitors and others can find out – where to park, who has good access and usable bathrooms. Good for visitors, good for business.
Portsmouth African Burying Ground and Memorial Park. Owner: City of Portsmouth. When routine infrastructure work revealed a forgotten “Negro Burying Ground,” it was decided to create a memorial park on the site – to honor those buried there, and to remind visitors of a significant part of our history. Local funds raised by local citizens supported this special park, which has been recognized internationally.