DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Derry

April 10, 2014

Councilors mull future of town-owned property

DERRY — Downtown property talk continues as town councilors now plan a workshop to tackle the specifics of a potential plan.

The Town Council has held public hearings on the town-owned, former oil company properties on Central and Abbot Courts, a longstanding topic for discussion.

The properties were used for fuel storage and distribution activities, dating back to the 1990s. The finishing work on cleaning up those properties is underway.

Many ideas for future use of the lots have been kicked around for years, from park plans to multi-use retail/business combinations to a new West Broadway fire station.

At a meeting April 1, councilors decided it was time to hold a workshop specifically on the downtown property.

Chairman Mark Osborne called any potential land plan a “large undertaking” and one warranting a special workshop.

Councilor Michael Fairbanks said the town should pursue a definite plan to have the property developed somehow.

In 2010, a downtown redevelopment plan was drawn up by then town consultant Stu Arnett, presenting several options to the Town Council and Downtown Committee.

In a March 2011 report, the downtown group supported a plan showing mixed-use buildings along with green space, parking, a skateboard park and even a location for the town’s farmers market.

Ideas were floated around building a new fire station there, but many now feel that location would not be suitable.

“If they are going to build a new fire station, they should put it in a better location and not down there,” Councilor Tom Cardon said.

Fairbanks said he hadn’t even heard of a potential fire station plan.

“That got me by surprise,” he said. “I’m not sure where that came from. That would be a real bad spot for a fire station.”

Some think the town should sell the property and profit from added tax revenue.

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