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January 21. 2013 11:14PM

Londonderry dog park group eyes new site

LONDONDERRY - Following months spent searching for the ideal spot to build Londonderry's new dog park, members of the town's dog park study committee now have their sights set on a parcel of conservation land at 95 South Road.

During Monday evening's town council meeting, committee member Scott Benson said his hope is to work with the conservation commission to secure a one-acre section of the site's 63 or so acres.

Benson said the process of finding a spot for the park has been long and frustrating.

"It's been a slow process," he told the council. "And before we can really begin talking about construction costs and sustainability, we really need to determine a site."

The committee had last appeared before town council in mid-October, when members lamented the fact that an earlier effort to secure a park site hadn't worked out as planned.

In September 2012, the committee members voted in favor of pursuing a town-owned former salvage yard on Sanborn Road but later learned the site had already been spoken for by the Elder Affairs Committee. The plan is to eventually construct a senior citizen housing complex on the same property.

Other options included a Sargent Road parcel owned by the FAA and an area behind Londonderry Town Common, however neither of those sites prove feasible options due to FAA restrictions and the fact that a dog park might not work near the town's center. As committee chairman Dottie Grover noted at the time, there are residents who don't necessarily enjoy keeping company with canines.

During an October meeting, Councilor Tom Dolan noted that the town owns land at Auburn Road, a former landfill that is now a federal Superfund site, and that area, which has since been decontaminated, might be a good place for a dog park.

Consisting of three separate disposal areas totaling 180 acres, the Auburn Road landfill was used as a town dump during the 1960s, with over 1,000 drums of chemical waste, discarded tires and solid waste buried there.

But Benson said the Auburn Road site wouldn't necessarily work for the committee's purposes since it seems to conflict with future development of the surrounding areas.

"Looking at the future possibilities, we felt the South Road site was the best option, since this land is basically protected from any type of future development," he said.

Using the dog park in nearby Derry for comparison, Benson, who visited the South Road site with town GIS manager John Vogl last week, said he believes only about an acre of the site's 63 acres would be needed for a dog park. That includes space for an unpaved parking area for around 20 vehicles.

The next step, he said, will be to meet with the town's conservation commission, which oversees the management of the property.

The Londonderry Conservation Commission meets Tuesday evening, Jan. 22, at 7:30 p.m.

aguilmet@newstote.com



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