Rocks Estate Expands Parking, Landscaping, Prepares For Christmas | Local News
BETHLEHEM – As the New Hampshire Forests Conservation Society redesigns The Rocks Estate to its northern headquarters, it is expanding parking, completing landscaping, and preparing for a full Christmas tree season.
The new parking lot will open up 96 new parking spaces, including barrier-free parking spaces, behind the coach barn on the south side of the building.
The landscaping includes a three-tier amphitheater at the site of the fire in 2019.
Both projects are now underway and are expected to be completed in the next two months.
“The big idea is to do all of this before the cold weather comes and we’re ready for Christmas,” said Anne Truslow, vice president of development at SPNHF.
The project grew out of the vision to completely renovate the Carriage Barn after the accident fire in February 2019 that destroyed the tool building, the property’s former operations center.
In the summer of 2020, the landscaping was carried out next to the foundations of the former tool shop at the location of the new amphitheater.
In June of this year, through a partnership between SPNHF and local fire departments, nearby Batchelder Cottage was deliberately destroyed by a controlled fire that was part of a firefighter training exercise.
The project phase for this summer has three parts, according to Truslow: digging behind the Carriage Barn to expand the parking lot, completing the landscaping, and expanding the Carriage Barn’s utility lines in preparation for the barn renovation, which will begin in the spring of 2022.
“The car park will make the Christmas season much smoother this year in terms of traffic flow,” she said. “One thing we haven’t determined yet is whether we will need reservations again this year. At the moment we are planning a full return to Christmas tree sales and the reuse of the entire area. “
The topsoil from the excavation, once cow dung from when the property was still a working farm, will be transported to other locations in The Rocks and used as filler material for the restoration of Batchelder Cottage, she said.
“There will be an extended parking lot up there with drainage and everything,” said Truslow. “The idea is to make the new parking lot usable by Christmas time. The schedule is essentially from the end of August to the beginning of September to do this part of it. “
The parking lot will be solid and unpaved.
A trench will then be dug to bring electricity, water and sewer extensions up the hill to the carriage barn.
In September and early October, teams will continue landscaping across from Rocks’ General Manager Nigel Manley’s home in the area of the former tool building.
The stairs will fall down the hill.
“It’s going to be a rustic amphitheater,” said Truslow. “It will have three levels and it will be placed so that you can really enjoy the full view. If everything goes according to plan, which has been the case so far, all of the landscaping and everything on the west side of the road plus the parking lot will be ready by October, as will the amphitheater. “
Two weeks ago, the Rocks trails were closed due to heavy equipment and safety concerns and are expected to remain closed until around mid-September.
“There is no construction work on the paths,” she said. “The trails will reopen in mid-September after the heavy equipment has been transported – probably between September 10th and 15th.”
For 2021, following last year’s COVID-19 pandemic that canceled or severely curtailed operations, The Rocks Estate has a full schedule of bus tours – around 90 – arriving this fall, and work will be completed before it arrive, said Truslow.
“We assume that all landscaping on the left / east side of the property will be completed in October and a multi-purpose outdoor area will be created,” she said.
To date, just over $ 3.75 million has been raised for the project, and few donations are currently in progress.
Recently, the SPNHF board of directors cast another yes vote to move forward.
“The goal we set for the entire project was $ 7.5 million,” said Truslow. “That’s $ 5.5 million in capital investments and $ 2 million for future management. We made a pricing update and we could get up to $ 8 million by the time the project is complete. But our board of directors has checked and re-tuned all of this and they are all there. We are definitely carrying out the project … The organization remains fully committed to fulfilling the vision as it was formulated in these phases. “
Landscaping is the first phase, the Carriage Barn is the second, followed by the third phase and the final piece, a covered outdoor pavilion at the west end of the Carriage Barn, which will be completed at a later date.
“There’s no timing at this point,” Truslow said. “We’ll put all the juice in the coach barn until that’s done.”
The vision is to create a forest exploration center.
Inside, a lobby and toilets, two classrooms and offices as well as gallery rooms are planned, all of which will be powered by renewable energy from solar energy and geothermal energy.
The initial phase, which was completed in late 2019, was building a workshop down by the Red House, near Route 302 and Interstate 93.
The plan is to begin renovating the carriage barn as early as possible in spring 2022 and is expected to have it ready for occupancy in spring 2023 or around mid-2023, she said.
Concord’s Milestone Engineering and Construction is the site manager who manages all subcontracts.
The contractor doing the current work is Andrews Construction of Campton.
Truslow was in the area on Friday when she was having lunch with members of the Profile Club and was asked about the status of The Rocks Estate.
“What we convey is that the project is going very well, one stage at a time, and we are really excited,” she said. “The feedback we get from people is positive.”