LONDONDERRY — Conservation Commission member Mike Speltz presented a draft of the 2010 Open Space Task Force Committee report to Town Council last week. This was in response to a council directive to the committee to take a fresh look at the open space program.
"We need to start by identifying how much is enough," Speltz said. "How much open space is enough to provide what we need?"
The town's open space program began in 2001 when town officials formed a plan to set aside a percentage of land for conservation. By 2005, the open space committee had a more detailed plan with a geographic mapping system.
"However, there was no plan for financing the protection of those resources," Speltz said.
Councilor John Farrell, who was one of the architects of the $1 million open space bond, agreed that it was time to revamp the program.
"We've spent millions of dollars on this already," he said. "I don't see the stewardship or a plan for it in this draft."
He mentioned that the town of Hudson recently converted the site of the former Benson's Wild Animal Farm into a public park for leisure activities like walking and picnicking.
"The did a really nice job through stewardship," Farrell said.
Councilor Tom Dolan said he was concerned about the constant flooding of the Brookview Drive area.
"I have a particular interest in the issue of wetlands management," he said. "This is an important issue and is part of our open space management."
Councilor Mike Brown said the committee should ask the community if it still values the open space program. "If the answer is yes, take a look at what type of properties do we acquire," he said.
Resident Tom Freda asked why the program has "basically been immune to the cutbacks we've seen in other areas of town."
"We've spent about $16 million already," he said. "I think we first need to figure out how much the taxpayers think is enough for the open space."
Speltz responded that the Conservation Commission has "done a good job of making the town's money go as far as we can."
"I think we can introduce a phase where we raise the level of community input," he said.
Discussions on task force plans will continue at upcoming council meetings.
• • •
Join the discussion. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to derrynews.com.