Over the past several years there has been renewed discussion on what to do with the Town Forest, which surrounds the Town Common.
In 1984, Planning Board Chairman and former selectman Arthur Rugg said, the town purchased what is now the Town Forest from Wallace Mack, Andy Mack’s father, for $146,250. As the land was valued at $191,250, he said Wallace Mack donated the balance of $45,000.
Now, 30 years later, the Master Plan Implementation Committee is looking at the Town Forest and Town Common to see what improvements to the property would help make the center of town more user friendly, as well as maintaining the character and historical nature of the area.
Suggested improvements include both more trails and more accessible trails, as well as a skating rink. And the Master Plan itself shows a road dividing the Town Common from the Town Forest, with small shops situated along the road.
Andy Mack, owner of Moose Hill Orchards, has some ideas for the area as well.
“The town has just adopted and spent a lot of money on a long range plan,” he said, referring to the Master Plan. “The town planners have told me that they want to enhance the center of town, and the Town Forest certainly falls in the center of town, with all the churches and town office, grange and whatever else.”
Mack would like to see the Town Forest turned into an “open woods.
“Because of its topography, it has an absolute advantage over all the surrounding land,” he said. “It’s got an overlook to orchards and fields, ponds and the cemetery and the farm buildings and Historical Society land.”
Mack noted that flax was grown on the land near the Historical Society; it was used in the making of shirts for George Washington’s army.
Mack suggests more trails should be incorporated into the Town Forest, and the trees should be identified and labeled so that people could learn about not only the history of their town but the native species in the forest.
“In other words, open it up and let everything that is there in some quantity – even the poison ivy and woodbine – be, so that when you walk in there, you can identify every tree and shrub that is growing there, and in addition you would have the pleasure of looking over what was old Londonderry, from the farmland to the woods and swampland.”
Mack said the improvements need to be substantial, “more than just a couple of trails.
“Trails are nice but they are not substantial enough to attract the populace, and beyond that, the Common needs to expand as much as the town wants.”
Mack’s hope is to encourage residents to visit the Town Forest as a place where they can walk and learn about the town and the nature that surrounds them.