The Conservation Committee’s intentions to improve parking conditions around ponds and a trail entrance did not exactly go as planned once residents got the chance to speak with its members during their June 27 meeting.
One of the committee’s most recent projects has been focused on making improvements to the conditions of specific natural locations strewn throughout Londonderry. Scobie Pond would have its boat launch area renovated and an information kiosk about the area introduced, while it, along with Kendall Pond and the Tanager Way entrance to the Musquash Conservation Area, would see their parking conditions improve. According to Committee Chair Marge Badois, the plan is to take “minimal baby steps” as they move forward.
Initial estimates put costs for the improvements at $70,000 for Kendall Pond, $37,000 for Scobie Pond, and $35,000 for Tanager Way.
In order to see how residents in these areas felt about said improvements, the committee sent out invitations to its latest meeting so that residents could speak directly with members and give their opinions. Roughly two dozen citizens from all three areas converged in the Moose Hill Chambers for their chance to speak.
Initially, Badois’ plan was to explain the details of each area’s potential improvements before hearing from residents who lived in that location. But, as the discussion began, it became clear that those in attendance had much bigger concerns on their minds.
Residents from Scobie Pond were concerned about visitors dropping trash and coming onto private property. They suggested that private property lines and boundary markers be placed.
A much larger concern was one of increased traffic and how much strain it would put on local roads. Resident Robert Cook of Brewster Road was the most vocal about this issue, claiming that the “substructure of the road is failing” and potholes are becoming a major nuisance. He seemed frustrated that money was being put towards encouraging more people to use these road instead of fixing them, saying, “No one wants to put money into our road.”
Things did not become any easier for the committee when Kendall Pond and Tanger Way residents spoke up. Doug Noyes, who has lived on South Road since 1992, stated that he was personally opposed to the whole project, not only because of the effects it would have on his view of the neighborhood, but also because of the amount of crime and homeless camps to be found in the area.
He argued that the committee wouldn’t want to live there either if they saw how bad conditions were. He believed that the committee’s funds were being focused incorrectly and that they believe that “to make it better, you make it bigger,” with more advertising only inviting more trouble.
Other residents continued to add on to the list of grievances, citing pollution in local bodies of water. They wondered why funds were being put towards what they consider non-issues, and stated that these issues have gone on for over a decade with no solution.
Badois noted that funds were being put towards parking and maintenance due to the Town Council faulting the committee for underutilization of their resources, prompting them to start these projects. In defense of the plans, member Michael Speltz argued that their additions and more visitors would actually benefit the area, stating , “The more regular people in the area, the less undesirable there are,” meaning troublemakers would be deterred by the higher amount of activity.
Regardless of this, the perspective on these areas had changed completely, with suggestions of park rangers around the ponds and Tanager Way being thrown around by the end of the discussion. It was also suggested by the committee that a forum between the committee, Town Council, and those in attendance be formed in the future so that the council could also get a sense of the problems these residents are facing.
Talks of improving parking in the aforementioned locations seemed to die down by the end of the discussion, with Speltz noting that the audience made a very compelling argument.