Town Green project advance in Londonderry

LONDONDERRY - The FEMA buyout properties are starting to look like a town green. These properties, located near the intersection of Routes 100 and 11 were damaged during Hurricane Irene. With money from FEMA, they will be torn down.

The questions are when and how.

In November, there was a public meeting to discuss the outcomes of a workshop that gave initial options for the properties and at March's Town Meeting Day, residents voted yes to an article on the warning, in support of fixing up these properties.

Sharon Crossman, chairwoman of the planning commission, said that the meeting Wednesday was a time to cut and paste ideas together, to form a more cohesive plan. "We have a task force that is a citizen group. . . tasked with coming up with a draft plant. . . for the select board to consider," Crossman said.

At a previous meeting, the group decided to leave the dam on the river out of the conversation, due to emotional differences of opinion, she said. Instead, the group acknowledges that at some point the dam will be removed, but not as a part of this project. Previously, the group came up with about 10 ideas of features or amenities they would like to see on the town green, everything from a safe cross walk, handicap accessibility, terraced steps and a public restroom.

"The town green concept when it was mentioned during the workshop. . . when we got back together recently, the whole idea of the park connoted different things," Crossman said. "We felt there had to be some way to assert we're really talking about something more passive, not an 'impactive' park, not a water park."

To help move the discussion along, Emmet Dunbar of the planning commission suggested that the groups write the different options up on the board and vote as to which amenities the group felt were most important to have in the first phase of development.

"Crosswalk, town green entrance, parking, landscaping and river access are pretty high," Dunbar said. "But the restroom, terraced steps, gazebo are all coming later."

The group decided to create an A and B list, to present the town, as a way to show all their ideas and how they could be implemented in different phases.

They agreed that if a restroom could be built in the buy-out property, that it should be a part of the first phase. There was also discussion about the terraced steps, which may need to be built at the beginning of the project, instead of at a later date.

Continuing the exercise of building the concept of the town green, Crossman cut out different features and taped them to a drawn out design of the properties, to show where a crosswalk or the entrance might show up in a final design. This will give the group a visual when presenting to others, like the community or the select board.

Josh Wengerd, a member of the planning commission, wanted to know if a designer or engineer could be brought in to move the process along.

Through out the conversation, Kevin Beattie, town administrator, reminded the group that FEMA restrictions only apply to the specific buy-out properties, not the land already owned by the town. He also helped to answer some of the questions surrounding dealing with the state in putting in a cross walk and other municipal concerns.

The group will meet a final time on May 22 at 6:30 p.m. before they present their idea and design to the select board.


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