By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — One man’s crusade to get the town’s forest cleaned up continues while town officials ponder what to do about the wooded property near the Town Common.
Forest supporter Kent Allen spearheaded a citizen’s petition in last month’s town election, asking voters to support turning over control of the 13-acre forest to the town manager to kick a major forest cleaning effort into gear.
That article failed to pass with voters, 855-1,026.
The Town Common already falls under the town manager’s jurisdiction. The Conservation Commission takes a lot of management and responsibility for what happens in the forest.
But the forest remains a key issue and many are wondering how to move forward with any cleaning work and who would be ultimately responsible.
The Heritage Commission was the latest group to weigh in on the forest future.
The town’s new Master Plan Implementation Committee will work on the forest that abuts a historic Mammoth Road cemetery and apple orchards.
The wooded property’s future doesn’t just include cleanup work; it may also include more extensive projects to update town trails or other areas to make the land more family friendly and accessible.
The entire Town Common and forest could be part of a more involved “town center” plan, town planner Jon Vogl told Heritage Commission members at a recent meeting.
“We want a good plan for what should occur out there and what the best management strategy would be,” he said.
He said ideas would be taken back to the new Master Plan Implementation group. The process would be a “public process,” he said.
Right now, there are many ideas about what could make the town’s center area more attractive and useful.
Some like the park idea; some want it kept more natural and untouched.
“But if it’s left in a primitive state, people can’t use it as well,” Vogl said.
Heritage Commission member Ann Chiampa said she hopes the forest could be used more as a natural classroom for students.
“You could learn so much from this forest,” she said.
Allen said he wants the forest to be cleaned up and town ALERT volunteers could do the job without any liability issues as long as the group is called out as an official mission and works in tandem with fire department crews.
Conservation Commission members said at earlier meetings they didn’t want Allen’s project to go much beyond the trail area in the forest as it may disrupt valuable animal habitat, including the underbrush around fallen trees.