New Parking Area Opens At Kendall Pond Conservation Area

A newly configured and expanded parking area is now in place at the Kendall Pond Conservation Area on South Road. This after many months of sometimes contentious discussion between the Conservation Commission, neighbors of the area, town officials and the town council.

The new parking area is in the same general area on South Road, but it is close to the road, expanded and more open.

In June 2017 during a public hearing several abutters of the conservation area shared their concerns about unlawful activity, some recent and some from several years ago, occurring on the property including camping and littering. Neighbors also suspected that the area was being used for drug and sex-related activities. Reports were that most of the suspicious activity occurred at night.

Later in 2017 at the request of the Conservation Commission, Londonderry Police installed a hidden camera in the parking area for a month to monitor for illegal activity. After reviewing thousands of images, no issues were found.

During 2017, the Conservation Commission considered several alternatives to address neighbor’s concerns including lighting the parking lot at night, permanently installing video surveillance, posting signs to clarify allowed hours of use and installation of a gate.

At the request of the Commission the town researched the cost to install a gate that would be on a timer or be remote controlled. The estimated cost of $20,000 was more than the Commission was willing to spend especially because the Commission considered the issue a town and police issue. This included the gate itself and Eversource running power to the parking lot.

Previously, manual gates had been considered, but issues of who would lock and unlock the gate and how would situations be handled when a person using the area was locked inside the gate led to the decision to look at automatic gates.

During a December 2017 Town Council meeting councilors asked Town Manager Kevin Smith to get the neighbors together with the Commission to come to an agreeable plan to improve the situation. In the meantime, the Council ordered that the entrance to the parking lot be closed by placing a large tree in the entranceway.

In May 2018, at the request of the Conservation Commission, the Town Council passed an ordinance establishing hours of operation for the parking area. Prior to that, there was no ordinance on the books that police could enforce. The hours were set at 5am-8pm during daylight savings time and 5am-6pm otherwise.

At this point, in addition to the opened-up parking area and the posted hours, there is also a sign clearly stating permitted and banned activities. Video surveillance is also in place to monitor the impact of the changes. The town and the Conservation Commission agree to split the cost of the tree removal required to modify the parking lot configuration.

With a solution in place for the parking area, the Commission is starting to discuss other improvements that can be made to the area including replacing the aging kiosk at the trail entrance, brush clearing along the trails to open them up, a roadside sign and new picnic tables.

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