Given several apparent setbacks to their choice of a West Road site, including locked gates and snow removal maintenance issues, the dog park committee is concerned that it may have to look elsewhere.
With the gates locked in the off-season at the soccer fields, access would be restricted to the park in the colder months, as previously reported in the Londonderry Times, and with the need for parking, snow removal would become an issue. With those things in the mind, the committee invited Recreation Director Art Psaledas to meet with them Tuesday, April 22.
“We have been looking for a long time at properties and every time we think we’ve found one, it was denied for some reason,” committee chairman Dottie Grover said. “So, we’re down to the offer that we had, which was out on West Road, and we weren’t thinking in terms of any problems. We had seen it in the summer, but when we drove by in the winter and saw that the gates were locked and the snow was still in there, (committee member) Cindy (Eaton) and I got to thinking that there were problems that we had not anticipated.”
Psaledas said they didn’t always lock the gates.
“What happened is that we were finding damage, we were finding sofas, car tires, people dumping stuff,” Psaledas said. “I don’t know why they didn’t just go down to the dump. Our other concern has been kids in the parking lot doing doughnuts, so that’s basically why we lock it. We’re not using it and we prefer people to not be on the site. And the other thing is people getting on the fields with snow machines and they think it’s safe, but they are doing damage to the fields.”
Psaledas said he has one part-time worker for the recreation department, whereas the high school has four or five people to work on the fields.
“He can keep up with what he has but he can’t keep up with continuing damage,” Psaledas said of his worker. “We don’t plow it because the employee doesn’t work from December to April and we don’t have the equipment to plow it. We have one pickup truck, a half-ton truck, which doesn’t have a plow on it.”
As for parking, Psaledas said current parking for the soccer fields is inadequate and a town ordinance prohibits dogs from the fields when the fields are being used by kids. Psaledas suggested parking for the dog park could be around the back, away from the fields, to avoid that ordinance.
Psaledas said he didn’t know what the town would require of a parking lot but might say that it has to be paved, with a detention pond for runoff rainwater, something that could get expensive.
Psaledas said another concern is vandalism.
“We had one kid torch a port-a-potty and another rode his horse in the fields. It’s out there and it happens,” Psaledas said.
Eaton said it was the committee’s hope that after finding a location and raising the money to build a dog park, it would become a town facility, maintained by the town.
Committee member Scott Benson asked what Psaledas thought was the biggest hurdle, and Psaledas said “the biggest pain in the neck would be dealing with the town.”
Grover said Public Works Director Janusz Czyzowski had “given us his blessings as far as drainage and things like that.”
Benson said they didn’t know who would maintain the park because it was unknown who would have control of it.
“We don’t know those answers because we don’t have a viable site yet,” he said.
“It was never said that we would own it forever,” Grover said. “We’re trying to locate a site and get it built.”
“Then maintenance is the problem,” Psaledas said.
He said other communities have full-time park employees but Londonderry does not.
“They would have to fund it somehow,” Psaledas said of the town.
Eaton said the committee had discussed the possibility of using some dog registration fee funds to maintain the park but didn’t know how that would work.
Committee member John Curran suggested the park be open seasonally, which would solve the plowing issue.
“I think that would definitely have to be put on the table,” Grover said.
Grover referenced a plot of land on Sanborn Road she said would be perfect for a dog park but was promised for use as senior housing.
“There was some contamination on it and that was dealt with, but now they say that they have found more. With a dog park that’s not an issue, but having seniors living on it, it is,” Grover said.
“I think that is on a 100-year flood plain, because we were going to put a field on it and we were told, ‘you can’t; it’s on a 100-year flood plain,’ and I said, well, it will be just a lot of water for that season,” Psaledas said.
Grover said she would be talking to Councilor Joe Green, who will be attending the next dog park committee meeting and is liaison to the elder affairs committee, about the status of the Sanborn Road property.
She also said she would talk to other town officials regarding parking and the flood plain.