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AHEAD focuses NeighborWorks Week on river district

June 04, 2014
LITTLETON— As a river district property owner, Affordable Housing, Education, and Development (AHEAD) has been participating in the discussion about revitalization along the Ammonoosuc. Starting Monday, AHEAD has river district beatification activities scheduled each day to coincide with NeighborWorks Week.

NeighborWorks America is an organization focused on assisting affordable housing organizations and communities. As stated on its website, the organization

assists "lower-income people to live in affordable homes in safe, sustainable communities that are healthy places for families to grow."

NeighborWorks Week is a partnership between NeighborWorks and local affordable housing agencies. "We are charter members of NeighborWorks America," according to Sally Ayers, AHEAD's Director of Operations.

To assist Littleton's river district revitalization, Ayers said AHEAD wanted to focus this year's NeighborWorks Week activities on the area between Main Street and the Ammonoosuc. Among several properties in town, AHEAD owns Ammonoosuc Green, a two-unit complex in the river district.

"We always have a great volunteer turnout for NeighborWorks Week," Ayers said. She believes getting volunteers to plant flowers and work on erosion control along Saranac Street will "bring attention to our river district."

Plans for next week's work benefited greatly from the permaculture design team that was in town last month, Ayers continued. That effort focused on ideas for beatifying the Tannery Marketplace and surrounding land through creation of new green space and outdoor activity areas right along the river.

The design weekend in May, Ayers continued, "came up with an extensive list of vegetation" that could assist in bringing vibrant color to Saranac Street. Three specific areas to be planted starting Monday are a bed on the Tannery parcel, space along Saranac Street, and the entrance to the nearby walking bridge.

Like the initial river district design team in 2012 and last month's permaculturalists, Ayers said the next week's efforts will consider the matter of drainage. For years, managing water has been a major issue around the Tannery building and surrounding properties. Ayers said the work slated for next week will be "thinking futuristically about runoff."

Landscaping, yard work, and planting along the road by Ammonoosuc Green will be the focus of the work to occur on June 9. The suspension bridge entrance improvements are on the agenda for June 10. For the following two days, the NeighborWorks Week volunteers will tackle the Tannery plantings, which will be part of an eventual bioswale designed to address runoff issues. Each day's work is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m.

Those who would like to contribute to next week's effort can also take part in Adopt-A-Plant. For $25, Ayers said people provide funding for particular bushes or other vegetation that will be planted during the week.

Community revitalization work provides an important link between people and their town, Ayers suggested. Assisting with river district revitalization serves as "a really nice direction for AHEAD," she concluded.

Stacey Doll, a Tannery tenant and organizer of last month's permaculture workshop, praised next week's plans. "AHEAD is very supportive of the permaculture redevelopment plans." Doll continued, "They reached out to us to coordinate the implementation of the first garden bed that is part of this plan." She concluded, "We are thrilled to be partnering with AHEAD to bring nature and community together in the Saranac Street neighborhood."

The week of work will conclude with a block party behind AHEAD's office at 161 Main Street. Ayers requests that people RSVP for the party, which starts at noon on Friday, June 13. To attend the party, participate in Adopt-A-Plant, or sign up for NeighborWorks Week activities, follow the link available on AHEAD's main web page, www.homesahead.org.

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