Major expansion proposed for National Guard armory


December 30, 2013
LITTLETON — Built for the Cold War, the National Guard Armory, located at 350 Meadow Street, is set for major changes. The Guard has requested public comment on plans for a 4,500 square foot addition to the complex.

Construction began at the Armory campus, now known as the Littleton Readiness Center, in the late 1940s. The Guard plans for the expansion "to contain administrative offices and associated support spaces," according to documents available for residents' review at the library and town offices.

Through January 19, the public can review and comment on the Guard's plans. Because the state's armories are considered historic structures, the Division of Historical Resources has worked with the Guard on the Littleton expansion. An accompanying story discusses that process.

Colonel David Mikolaities provided insights on the Guard's plans last week. "Most of our armories are Cold War era facilities," he said. "They have really not been modernized for today's force structure."

Mikolaities said the brigade support functions performed in Littleton currently require a second facility, located in Hillsborough. "The unit is so large," Mikolaities said, "it is split between two localities."

Regarding the expansion, Mikolaities said, "We're trying to get the most bang for our buck." The plans would place the addition closer to Meadow Street than the current armory. A conceptual floor plan available in the documents provided to the town shows a multi-purpose classroom, storage, and office space in the addition.

As expansion plans were developed, Mikolaities said the Guard considered placing the addition at various parts of the Armory property. Setback minimums established after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing were part of the consideration. These require at least ten meters, or 32.8 feet, between buildings and parking areas. Mikolaities added that the Guard's planning phase was also driven by an interest to have "the least impact on the site."

The new 4,500 square footprint is "the only ground disturbance associated with this project," according to Guard documents. Plans require removal of several existing site features. These include lawn and the front entrance walkway. Regrading, paving, and landscaping are part of the design plans.

As the project narrative states, the addition "is intended to provide the men and women of the Guard with the required physical space to fulfill their professional training requirements." Placing the addition on the southeastern side of the armory "represents the most logical and programmatically viable location" for the addition, the Guard contends.

Bedford-based Dignard Architectural Services worked with the Guard on the Littleton project. The firm also designed the 7,000 square foot readiness center expansion in Milford.

Mikolaities said two mitigation actions, detailed in the documents available for public review, are expected. First, a permanent display will interpret the site's historical importance. Second, replacement of missing windows on the armory's front façade will occur, based on funding and interior building function.

Mikolaities said federal funding will cover 100 percent of the project's cost, estimated at about $1.2 million.

Interested persons can review the Guard's planning and mitigation documents by requesting such review at the town office or the library. Comments can be provided, no later than January 19, to: Eileen F. Chabot, MPH, Cultural Resources Program Manager, NGNH-FM-ENV, State Military Reservation, Building F, 1 Minuteman Way, Concord, NH 03301-5607. Chabot can be reached at 225-1211 or via email at Eileen.f.chabot.nfg@mail.mil.

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