Skating Rink Resurfaces as Possibility for Town Common

Resident Kent Allen brought up a skating rink for the Town Common and an associated parking lot at the Master Plan Implementation Committee meeting once again.

Allen said that in 2005, two versions of a proposed skating rink were discussed.

“One was on the Town Common itself and the second one was in the woods area,” he told the committee at its Wednesday, June 25 meeting. “They had parking then of about 17 vehicles. To clear an area that small wouldn’t be economically justifiable.”

Allen said he had proposed using a space roughly 80 feet deep by 175 feet and brought Assistant Public Works Director John Trottier to the site. He said Trottier was concerned about the sight line problem on Pillsbury Road.

Chairman Chris Davies asked what Allen’s design would bring to the parking numbers.

“Originally it was 17 and we can more than double that,” Allen said, adding his design for parking involved less than a quarter acre.

He noted the existing stone wall could be left in place with an opening cut in to get into the parking area, or it could be taken out and moved to border Pillsbury Road, making the parking area “an integral part of the Common.”

Committee member John Vogl said he would be interested in checking out safety improvements made to both Pillsbury and Mammoth roads, “to take advantage of existing parking at the Lions Hall, Morrison House and the schools and such.”

He said the question to ask is, “What is this parking for? People are finding that there are ways to go to Old Home Day and the Concerts on the Common and all that good stuff that’s there today.”

Committee member Ann Chiampa said she had asked Old Home Day chairman Kathy Wagner about parking and Wagner told her the festival did not have a parking problem, with all the areas that are now available.

Committee member Barbara Mee said to use parking by the Morrison House for a skating rink in the winter would be ridiculous.

Committee member Mike Speltz reminded the committee that the intersection of Mammoth and Pillsbury roads was signalized for pedestrians. “There is a safe path to get from all the churches to the Common,” Speltz said.

Davies said it seemed logical to have a place where people could park to enjoy the Town Common and Town Forest. “I think the other areas would be the overflow (parking),” he added. “They could turn around one day and say, ‘No, you can’t park here.’”

Committee member Deb Paul, who is publisher of the Londonderry Times, said originally they wanted to use a pond for the skating rink and Allen said they could do it but that Trottier cautioned that the permitting process with the state could be an issue.

“He (Trottier) said that it was a small, self-contained ecosystem and to get in there and make it bigger, the permitting would be an issue,” Allen said.

The discussion turned to where the rink would be. One possible location showed it near the stone wall picnic area adjacent to the Common.

Chiampa asked about trails for wheelchair and elderly access and said she had visited Crotched Mountain, which has trails that were made accessible by using compacted stone and switchbacks to solve grade problems.

Vogl received consensus that further study was needed for the rink, parking and the town center in general.

“Some of the things I wrote down are the notion of an overlook, the notion of expanded trails, the notion of a skating pond, the notion of handicapped accessibility, the notion of not precluding future changes and the notion of keeping green areas open and possible buildings,” he said. Consensus on those items was reached unanimously.

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