The Sununu Youth Services Center (YSC) is a 13 million dollar a year, 24-bed residential facility that is currently serving fewer than 10 youths. The center is located on 156 acres of formerly Abenaki meadow and woodland abutting the Merrimack River, historically deeded by the Stark family to the state of New Hampshire. With a small population at the center, there is an open question as to what more could be done with the site.
Now, it’s time to reimagine the scope and scale of service that can be done at that location.
In concert with the Manchester Rail Trail project and Stark Park trails, we’re building a plan to convert this area into a beautiful natural preserve with options for hands-on environmental and historical education, leisure, and recreation.
This project would be a unique benefit to the southern New Hampshire area, as the urban center of the state’s largest city does not currently offer an educational green space. Comparable facilities are prohibitively further north for many youth and residents.
- Year-round center to link people and nature together to experience the physical world
- Providing learning opportunities about the natural world programmed as alternative educational opportunities
- Accessible 3-season walking, jogging, and cycling trails
- Winter cross-country/Nordic ski and snowshoeing trails
- Picnicking areas and maintained fire pits
- Access to Merrimack River (kayaking, rowing)
- Reintroduction of native wildflowers to encourage populations of bees and butterflies
- Community gardening plots with native plants
- Onsite maple sugaring shack
- Home to city police horses and public stables and trails
- A wildlife preserve similar to Squam Lake
- Education about the Abenaki nation and their present and historic cultural and land-management practices
- Hands-on learning experiences about water management and the significance of water-generated power in Manchester’s past
- Tree-tapping and maple sugaring
- Equestrian center
- Apiary science—bees!
- Wilderness navigation, safety and survival, and environmental appreciation
- Low and high ropes courses for exercise and team building