By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — Many officials and residents still have high hopes for the Pettingill Road project.
That hope could come in the form of federal funding to help support the 1,000-acre project that’s been on the town’s radar for more than a decade.
The town announced last week that an application was submitted for a potential $8.2 million in federal transportation funds from the economic-recovery program Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, to support the Pettingill project.
The town is asking for 100 percent funding, but admit fulfillment of such a request would be rare.
Acting Town Manager William Hart said it was time for a big push to find support.
“The Town Council has made it clear in discussion about economic development that finding the funding for the construction of Pettingill Road is job one,” Hart said. “With this direction, we made a full-court press to submit a sound and compelling application. We are convinced that the project’s readiness and huge job impacts should make it competitive.”
That job impact could bring up to 10,000 jobs if Pettingill is developed.
Many call the land near the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport a perfect place to attract new business and help the town grow.
It’s also strategically located to support not only the business in and out of the airport, but future commercial and industrial uses that could bring a boom to the town.
Hart said the town’s effort to secure funding was endorsed by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, Southern NH Planning Commission and several major businesses. Legislators also support the plan.
Russ Thibeault of Applied Economic Research was contracted to conduct studies of Pettingill and spoke to town councilors earlier this year. He said if developed, Pettingill would help Londonderry reap many benefits, especially financially.
“If you do decide to build this, to front end this, you will get your money back,” Thibeault said.
Paying for Pettingill is a big unknown. If grant funding comes through that could give the project a big boost. The total cost to get the project done could top $12 million.
Town planner Cynthia May said getting the grant money was a “long shot.” Another attempt to secure funding in an earlier round was not successful.
“We don’t currently have any match,” she said, “but it’s worth a try.”
Hart said the project is further along than the previous funding attempt.
“The access road was not built then, and we were not as ready to proceed with sewer improvements then as we are now,” he said. “We know now there is real demand for this industrial area if we can collectively find a way to finance the connector.”
Thibeault said funding help could also come through development impact fees, a tax increment financing plan, or through public and private partnerships.
Coming up with the money is the biggest hurdle.
“This project could happen quickly if funding were there,” Kathy Wagner said. “We have to come up with the money ourselves if we believe in the project.”
Hart said having Pettingill materialize would do the town good.
“If funded, this will be a great step toward much-needed job opportunities for our region,” he said.
The town expects to hear about the potential for grant money this fall, May said.
“At this point, we just wait,” she said.
If all goes according to plan, construction on the Pettingill Road project could begin as early as next spring.