Like many of the Climate Summer teams, the New Hampster’s have been getting rather wet the past few days. Thursday morning arrived, and contrary to our hopes, the rain had not let up. Undiscouraged, we rode out of our current home, the YMCA, and headed downtown for our meeting with Renaissance Downtowns, LLC.
James (Jim) Voye and Michelle Crouch welcomed us into their office and offered us much desired coffee! We had heard briefly about Renaissance during the City Hall Meeting on Nashua’s Roadmap to an Efficient City, but Jim and Michelle introduced us to the inner depths of the company they work for. Renaissance Downtowns, Nashua (their other office is in Bristol, CT) is an urban planning company, currently developing a plan for a site on the Eastern entrance to Nashua. They are not just any other developer however. They partner with community members, any community members, to create their plans. Via monthly public meetings, survey and blog websites the community of Nashua is given the opportunity to propose ideas for this space. Some suggestions include a community garden and pedestrian and bike access to downtown Nashua. Once proposed these ideas get voted on by other community members on the website. Renaissance does not develop the site; instead, they allow individuals to design a site that they want to live, work, and play on. The plan then gets sold to developers, contractors, etc… who will do the actual labor of bringing this plan to life.
As Jim and Michelle informed us, their main mission is to incorporate true individual and community desires into the planning process. Why develop a location and a site that no one wants to live in? Or is just like the development across the street? This way those interested in living, working, or shopping on the site (as it will be a mixed-use area) can provide input. Renaissance is just getting off the ground, but they hope to create a blueprint for a site that the community of Nashua wants! One of Jim’s main passions, not connected to his work with this business, is establishing a rail system between Nashua and Boston! Jim and those here on the New Hampster’s team, would like the station in Nashua to be accessible by pedestrians and bikers, not just by cars! Imagine being able to commute to Boston from Nashua, without the use of a car, or a rather slow bus!
The hour with Jim and Michelle felt more like spending time with friends than sitting in a business meeting, and this instance of strangers welcoming us as friends continued as the day wore on. Bob from BetterBuildings, our main contact in Nashua, who has been absolutely amazing, set us up with Mike Turcotte of TurnCycleSolutions, an energy analysis company. We met Mike at a house just south of downtown Nashua. Joking and laughing as he went, he showed us the basics of a home energy audit. I had no idea that a blower door (which equalizes the pressure in a house) could highlight all the leaking spots in a house! All I can say is everyone who owns a home needs to do an energy audit!! So much wasted air and heat goes out of your house (mainly through areas around windows—not the windows themselves)!! I for one called my family in Maryland and told them that we need to get an energy auditor out to check our home!
We are so grateful to Mike and all the others in Nashua who are still working on finding us housing for next week when we are in Portsmouth. We, sadly, have still not found anywhere. So, anyone who knows anyone who can help us find a floor please contact us!!