, Derry, New Hampshire


October 31, 2013

Editorial: Get town-owned properties back into private hands

It makes little sense for a community to purchase land when town leaders have no clear idea what to do with it.

In Derry, the Town Council is split on what to do with two pieces of property the town purchased without any solid plan for their use. In 2008, the town purchased the 1-acre former Difeo Oil site on Central Court for $225,000. Then in January, the council paid $173,000 for a 0.09-acre parcel at 8 Central St.

The Town Council in May rejected the purchase of a third parcel, a multi-family house at 1 Sawyer Court, by a vote of 4-3.

There was some general idea that these three centrally located parcels would be used to support downtown development by “improving access” or expanding parking. But no solid plan was ever put forth.

Good for those on the council who blocked the Sawyer Court purchase in May. There’s no sense in throwing good money after bad. Too bad, however, that eight units of residents were displaced before the council made up its collective mind. Waffling has consequences and these people paid a price for the council’s lack of direction.

Now, what to do with the two downtown parcels the town still owns?

Councilor Tom Cardon wants to make a park.

“It is a perfect location next to the bike trail and one block from the downtown,” he said.

Cardon said it’s time for the town to get away from the idea of parking and building purchases.

“For too many years, people have been focusing on parking and what buildings the town can buy,” he said. “If the town can remove itself from parking and property purchase, and focus on something else, they might have a shot at doing something.”

He’s right about that. But the idea of turning these downtown properties -- which are well off the main strip of West Broadway -- into a park seems like another nebulous plan that has not been thought through completely.

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