, Derry, New Hampshire

January 2, 2014

Recreational guide work at a standstill

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — The town wants to help people find their way around recreational lands with a conclusive town guide, but officials aren’t sure how to pay for the work needed to get it done.

Town councilors heard last month about a proposal to create a recreational guide that would offer detailed information to the public about trails, open space and what activities are allowed in those areas.

The plan is part of an overall comprehensive stewardship effort to help detail all the land in Londonderry, where it’s located and what it offers.

But now Conservation Commission members are unsure which town account holds the money to pay for the guide.

The town contracted with Stu Arnett and his company to work on the project, along with other economic and planning initiatives.

Arnett began the process by researching all the deeds on conservation lands and easements. Field observations followed to record and map more data, also making sure property lines were recorded.

The information collected was analyzed to see where hunting would be allowed, where the trails are and what activities would be allowed on various properties.

The town’s website will eventually be a location where residents will be able to do that one-stop shopping when searching for open space things to do.

Now, the project isn’t being funded.

“We find ourselves in a bind,” Conservation Commission member Mike Speltz told councilors. “We were told we could use conservation funds.”

It turns out there are three funds used for conservation in town, Speltz said, and a stop order on the recreation guide work had to be issued until the right account is specified to pay for the project.

“We had to tell the contractor to stop the work,” Speltz said.

He said one account was earmarked to pay for the guide, but then the group found out that money was only allowed to be used to purchase open space in town.

“That was not the correct pot to draw from,” Speltz said.

The guide work could cost upward of $28,000.

Until legal counsel helps sort out the issue, the guide work is at a standstill.

“We are left with no way to complete what we all thought was a very good idea,” Speltz said.

He said the guide would be useful to the town and it’s hard not seeing it get finished.

“We’re not looking to add money,” Speltz said. “We’re looking for authorization to spend the money we already have.”

Councilors and the town attorney will get clarification on what each conservation fund is to be used for and how much money is in each account.

“Then we can figure out a direction once we know where all the money is,” Council Chairman John Farrell said.