Town Forest and Common Survey Brings in 135 Answers

At the Master Plan Implementation Committee’s booth at the recent Old Home Day celebration, residents were surveyed about their views on how to improve the Town Forest. And according to those surveyed, most want more trails.

A total of 135 people responded, or less than 1 percent of the town’s population.

The survey first asked what could be done to improve the Town Forest and gave a list of options, including new trails, additional parking, an ice skating rink, landscaping improvements, small scale commercial buildings, clearing of downed trees, safe crossings across Pillsbury and/or Mammoth roads and doing nothing.

The clear favorite at 71 percent of respondents was to add new trails. An ice rink came in second at 58 percent.

Safe road crossings totaled 36 percent, clearing of downed trees and brush received 33 percent, no change was 25 percent, landscaping improvements received 22 percent and small scale commercial buildings was last at 9 percent.

The survey also asked how long the respondent had lived in Londonderry.

Out of 135 people who responded, 50, or 36 percent, said 10 to 20 years; 34 people or 25 percent said less than 10 years; 25 residents or 18 percent said 21 to 30 years; 17 people or 12 percent said 40-plus years and five people or 4 percent left that question blank.

The high age brackets were 21-49 with 60 people or 43 percent, and over 49 years old with 59 people or 43 percent.

The last question on the survey asked if the respondent wanted a more park-like Town Common.

In the 0 to 20 age group people were neutral at 38 percent; 21- to 49-year-olds did not want that, 38 percent favorable to 43 percent unfavorable. For those over age 49, it was 32 percent yes and 42 no.

Overall, 41 percent were unfavorable.

Among the anonymous comments were:

“Keep the budget in mind, my property taxes are high enough.”

“I like more trees and a rink.”

“Kids need an outlet. Could sell hot chocolate, etc., to raise money.”

“Add a water fountain and café on existing streets.”

“A coffee shop. We would love to have coffee and hang out at the Common.”

At the Master Plan Implementation Committee meeting Wednesday, Aug. 27, members discussed the results.

Comprehensive Planner John Vogl said the survey was a good snapshot of what people wanted for the Town Forest and Town Common.

“Some people said they didn’t want a road behind the bandstand, commercial buildings, or sidewalk on the Common itself, but they favored more trails,” committee member Tim Siekmann said.

Siekmann said people came up to him and gave suggestions, such as more lighting on the bandstand, but didn’t write them on the survey.

Chairman Chris Davies asked about a common theme, and Vogl said people wanted changes but didn’t want to pay for them.

Committee member Deb Paul said about an ice skating rink, “once you have it, you have to maintain it.”

“We have a little over 23,000 people in town and 139 people answered the questions. That’s under 1 percent,” committee member Ted Combes noted.

“I agree that the survey result isn’t something you can take to the bank, but to give direction, and it’s a consensus to what we were speaking to,” Vogl responded. “I think it validates the ideas of the group.”

Davies said that it would “be good to contrast and compare against the Master Plan.”

Davies said the plan is to get a document together “that we can review, annotate, then come back and revise at the next meeting, with the objective that at the following meeting in October, we can get some sort of approval vote on it.”

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