Senior Housing Could Share Sanborn Site with Dog Park

The Elder Affairs Committee has been looking at a location on Sanborn Road as the site for affordable senior housing. And the Dog Park Committee would also like to use that site for a dog park.

Joe Green, Town Council liaison to both the Elder Affairs Committee and the Dog Park Committee, came up with a compromise last week.

“The soil testing on the site came back and there is bad soil,” Green said, referring to contamination from previous use. Previous testing on the contaminated soil resulted in a clean-up, but problems continue.

According to Londonderry Comprehensive Planner John Vogl, the site, located at 30 Sanborn Road, consists of 13.6 acres and had earlier been used as a junkyard.

“It was a junkyard from 1956 until the late ‘80s,” Vogl said after the meeting. “There was buried waste at the site, which included a 2,000 gallon underground tank, disposed drums, stained soils and tires.”

 “A lot of times after the soil has been cleaned up they have to see if there is any residual contamination that percolated and there was,” Green said at the Tuesday, June 17 Elder Affairs Committee meeting. “We going to try to find out how much it’s going to cost to clean it up. And this (property) might be in a 100-year flood plain.”

Chairman Al Baldasaro said certain sections of the property are definitely in a 100-year flood plain. “There is a couple of acres in there but not the whole parcel,” Baldasaro said.

“The thought was that you guys needed 12 acres and there’s only eight right now – you’re a couple shy,” Green said.

Elder Affairs Vice Chairman Susan Haussler said the hope was to get a variance for the housing project.

“There’s no sense continuing to have this on the agenda – we need to either try to find something else or clean up a different area because we’re just wasting time waiting for this property when this isn’t an area we should be even looking at,” Green said.

“A couple of hundred yards down the road is water and sewer,” Baldasaro said. “That’s why when this came up there wasn’t an issue if there was any contamination because we weren’t going to use wells or any type of septic over there.”

Baldasaro said the plan was to use HUD (Housing and Urban Development) 202 money, but there was none available.

Haussler said they were told they could build on the portion of the site not in the flood plain.

“What if we added the dog park there too,” Green said. “A lot of elderly have pets. It would be a win-win situation.” And a dog park, he noted, could be built in a 100-year flood plain.

“You can’t put a building on it, it but you could build a dog park,” he said.

Green’s suggestion was to put the senior housing in the buildable area and the dog park in the area deemed unbuildable. “I’m thinking that it would be good because there’s parking there already,” Green said.

“If it wouldn’t take away from the building site or parking, I think it’s a no brainer,” Baldasaro responded.

Baldasaro said they could look into trails that could lead into the dog park.

Baldasaro made a motion to explore the possibility of the dual use; it passed unanimously.

Contacted after the meeting, Dog Park Committee Chairman Dottie Grover said the compromise idea is wonderful.

“I think it’s wonderful, very exciting,” she said. “Now that they’ve identified the flood plain and talked about reducing the number of units, they’re still going to have to go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a variance.

“It’s exciting, I hope it works out, but I’m trying to keep my feet on the ground here,” she added. “I think it’s wonderful that they were so supportive and willing to compromise. It really would be ideal because a lot of seniors have beloved pets and with it so close, it would be great, and the rail trail is right there. Seniors could also use it as a place to socialize. It really is a win-win situation.”

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