Outdoor Recreation Guide Outlined At Town Council

Stuart Arnett, contracted planner for the town, and Conservation Commission member Mike Speltz outlined for the Town Council an outdoor recreation guide.
Arnett said at Monday’s Town Council meeting, that the guide was a first step toward a comprehensive plan of outdoor recreational properties and what can and cannot be done on those properties.

“In September we did the deed research for each of the parcels we were looking at,” Arnett said. “Many are very standard and we recorded those for each site. In October we did some field observations and built on the good work (Geographic Information System – GIS – Manager) Jon Vogl did. In November we’re going to start finishing up the data.”
Arnett said encroachment issues are usually just a matter of a property owner not knowing where the property line is and with GIS, the lines can be marked better.
“We wanted to make the maps user friendly, and then we’ll take this back to the Conservation Commission,” Arnett said.
Arnett said the maps will be put on the town’s web site and if a family wanted to know where they could go for a hike, they could go to the web site, download a location, print it out and have the map and information of what is allowed in their possession.
“So if someone wants to know a little bit more before they go out, they can get the map and a list of what is or isn’t allowed based on the property they are going to,” Arnett sad.
Councilor Tom Freda said that was a good start.
Speltz said that as far as Conservation Commission easements, they are “a perpetual right to enforce a prohibition on development and to monitor the property.” For the landowner, they involve giving up the right to develop property for residential, commercial and industrial use, and for the town and landowner, they are a way to preserve land for agriculture, forestry, outdoor recreation, habitat and natural services.
Speltz said town-held easements come from mitigation for development, where a property owner wants to build but faces a wetland or another impediment to building. The landowner can provide mitigation, the town can create a deed restriction regarding building too close to wetlands, or the town can purchase land.
Speltz said 43 of the current easements are less than an acre and 81 are less than eight acres.
He noted the town’s obligations are to monitor each easement annually to confirm that the landowner is not in violation.
“Each commissioner monitors a fair share of easements every one to three years. The commission secretary maintains those records,” Speltz said.
Speltz said the exceptions are the Ingersoll property, which is monitored by a paid consultant because of the complexity of the property and the large number of abutters, and the Sunnycrest and Merrill easements, which are assigned to the Rockingham County Conservation District.
Speltz said monitoring is conducted by reviewing the file, which includes the deed, plans, data for GPS, and inviting landowners to accompany the monitor in walking the property to check the condition of the boundaries, encroachments or changes. The monitoring process also includes photographing any questionable activity to document it, preparing written reports for the files, and if there are any issues, having the commission contact the property owner.
Town Manager Kevin Smith asked how much of the land is in ownership versus easement.
“If you’re talking town-owned easements vs. town-owned land, I’d make it about a two thirds-one third mix. The Musquash is 100 acres,” Speltz said.
West Road Soccer Field Site Eyed for Dog Park
The Dog Park Study Committee, represented by member Scott Benson, presented its chosen location to the Town Council.
“It has been a long process trying to find a parcel of land that the town owns that could be possibly utilized for a dog park,” Benson told the Council on Monday night. “After talking with (Recreation Director) Art Psaledas and walking the property with (Comprehensive Planner) Jon Vogl, they and I are in agreement that there is a parcel at the back side of fields 6 and 7 on West Road, right next to the utility shed, that we could utilize. Art said they couldn’t use it for any of the ball fields.”
Benson said the site has four abutters who are used to the ballfields.
“We’re looking for guidance,” he said. “At this point it is the only viable site that the Town of Londonderry owns that couldn’t be utilized for something else. The Conservation Commission agreed that this would be a good use of that land, as long as we stayed away from the conservation easement. We have about .77 acres to use and still stay away from the easement.”
Councilor Jim Butler asked if there were any concerns about target practice or hunting in the area.
“I hope not, where they have ball fields in the area,” Benson responded.
He noted the area has a utility trail that maintenance uses to service the ball fields.
“As far as noise, I think that it is the best alternative that we have,” Benson said.
Benson said it was assumed the Town would not be funding the dog park and that private donations would be used for its construction and maintenance.
Chairman John Farrell said he asked Town Manager Kevin Smith to “check out and verify if we can use the land for that and talk to Public Works to see what would be required for maintenance, and then see if there is any funding mechanism to help them or if there’s something in the foreseeable future, one to three years down the road, if there’s any money we can contribute.”
Farrell said those would be the next steps.
“Do we wait to hear something or do we start fundraising? We have to first find out if the site is viable,” Benson said.
Farrell suggested Benson and the committee wait to hear back from Smith.
Councilor Tom Freda also suggested that the liability to the town be researched.
Councilor Jim Butler asked if there were any way they could start based on what they knew now, as far as what they would need for materials.
Benson said the site was a pretty level area and there would be “dirt work” to do and a little more leveling. He said an engineer should come in to make sure runoff was flowing in the right direction, and said stone dust and fencing would have to be purchased.
“There’s already water there and (portable toilets) because of the ball fields,” Benson said.
“Why don’t we check those thing out with Public Works and see where we go from there,” Farrell concluded.

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