CHESTERFIELD, N.H. -- In a symbolic gesture of the collaboration needed to get the project started, a collection of 12 professionals recently held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of a new planned liquor outlet on Route 9.
A group of architects, construction contractors, members of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, and state and local officials -- all responsible for getting the ball rolling on the 10,000-square-foot endeavor -- had shovels in hand with heavy-duty construction equipment in the background on Tuesday.
The state-of-the-art New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet will be part of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission’s attempt to modernize its facilities across the state.
Though grocery stores and supermarkets are allowed to distribute beer and wine, any store in New Hampshire selling spirits, or distilled beverages, is owned by the state. New Hampshire is one of 18 states in which the government directly controls the distribution and regulation of alcohol, and NHLC Chairman Joseph Mollica has said there are currently 77 such establishments in the Granite State.
That number will not change because this new outlet will replace the roughly 2,800-square-foot facility -- responsible for $5 million in sales each year -- located immediately past the U.S. Navy Seabees Bridge near the New Hampshire-Vermont border. The new store’s site is located just up the road, directly across from a Fleming Shell gas station.
"I think things went great (today)," Mollica said. "I think everybody’s excited, I think the town’s excited. I know the state is excited about it. It’s a financial opportunity for the people of the state. We’re always excited when we can put those things together."
Sen. Molly Kelly, who represents Cheshire County in the state Legislature, said the groundbreaking was a celebration of the teamwork between the local community and the state government.
"The people of Chesterfield have been wonderful to work with in this process. We’ve had meetings with citizens, with the selectpeople and also with the state," she said, with her white hard hat still on her head. "It is my hope to bring some economic growth to the community itself because there are businesses in the area."
Mollica said construction began about two weeks ago and is planned to conclude in mid-November, just before the holiday season.
"There’s a lot of traffic that comes to these stores," he said as he gestured toward Route 9, "and hopefully that will affect all the businesses. ... People that travel to our stores affect the area greatly. They bring business into the area."
He said there have been a lot of meetings held at Chesterfield Town Hall and with the state senators and representatives of the area.
Elaine Levlocke, of the Chesterfield Board of Selectmen, was also present at the groundbreaking.
"Everything has really worked wonderfully," she said. "In my opinion, the state presented to the town’s Planning Board and Board of Selectmen a plan, which addressed many of the areas of concern brought forth to them, including safety and parking being a couple of areas of concern."
The initial idea was to build a welcome center on the site but that plan was scrapped about a year ago when the state decided to decrease the number of them and move management of the facilities from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to the Department of Resources and Economic Development. The original project would have been a 8,000-square-foot facility that included a liquor store.
The new outlet will likely employ four or five people in a full-time capacity and five to nine on a part-time basis, Mollica said.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.