Dog Park Committee Waits for Site

Londonderry’s Dog Park Study Committee is on hiatus until a property in town is identified as a viable location for the project.

“We left it with the Town Manager and the Town Council. When they identify properties that may be available, we’ll start working on it again,” said Chairman Dottie Grover, who spearheaded efforts to establish the committee in 2011.

The group formed after a young student in town, who had stepped in dog excrement while playing during recess, wrote a letter to the Superintendent saying he didn’t think people should be allowing their dogs to foul the school playgrounds.

“I went to the Town Council and said it’s about time dogs had a place to go,” Grover said. “(Now Chairman) John Farrell said I should go forward with that idea.”

After the Council gave the committee its charge, the Town put out a call for volunteers and the group started holding meetings. The committee worked through a list of properties the Town suggested as potential locations for the dog park, ultimately eliminating all parcels but one on Sanborn Road.

The Sanborn Road location had long been the committee’s favorite; then they learned a developer was planning to move forward with a senior housing project on the property.

“There is some wetland there, and the area that is usable is not sufficient for senior housing and a dog park,” Grover said.

Additionally, a member of the Londonderry Trailways suggested a parcel off the Rail Trail; but the location met significant opposition from neighbors, who said it was not a suitable location for a dog park.

“That’s where we are, now. It didn’t make any sense to keep having the committee coming together without a potential location,” Grover said.

Other committee members are Raj Verma, Linda Bates, Anita Snow, John Beaulieu, Cindy Eaton, Tom Dalton and Scott Benson.

The committee has already completed a lot of the legwork for the project, visiting several dog parks around the state, and researching how they operate and are laid out.

“There really isn’t just one formula. Each town chooses their own particular way of doing things,” Grover said, noting she thinks a site off the Rail Trail may be the most optimal location for a dog park in Londonderry.

Until the committee identifies a likely location, it also can’t move forward with fundraising, as the price of the project is designed around what the land has to offer.

“We have to stand back and wait and see what happens,” Grover said, noting she does occasionally hear from residents who are driving to other communities to use their dog parks.

“I think this became more important when the School District and the Town declared dogs should not be on certain properties because of kids being around,” Grover said. “One of the things dogs really need is socialization. It’s really important to their physical and mental health to have some socialization with other dogs.”

And there are approximately 4,000 dogs in Londonderry.

“Right now, the only place people can bring their dog is on the trail ways, which is why I would love to have the park abutting Trailways,” Grover said.

In addition to the social and health benefits a dog park would provide Londonderry residents’ furry friends, Grover said the park would also provide another opportunity for members of the community to come together.

“We don’t have a lot of socialization among community members,” she said. “Something we saw at the dog parks we visited was, they’re not only great for dogs, but also great for the people bringing their dogs.”

For more information about the committee’s efforts, contact Dottie Grover at 434-5143.

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