LONDONDERRY — The town has met its open space requirement and needs to protect its water supply.
That was the consensus at last week's Town Council meeting as the councilors gave feedback on the 2011 report of the Open Space Task Force by Conservation Committee Chairman Mike Speltz.
"I'm trying to get a handle on this," Councilor Tom Freda said.
Freda pointed out that the 2006 task force directed the town to maintain 25 percent of its land for open space.
"According to this report of 2011, it looks like the town has achieved 15 percent of permanently protected land and 15 percent partially protected," he said. "Now is the time to scale back the project and look at what we already have, and try to increase usage of it."
Freda said there are approximately 170 acres of land in the Bockes-Ingersoll Forest in the south section of town that is underused by residents, according to a survey done by the task force.
"We need to advertise to folks what's out there," he said. "Ingersoll greatly underutilized and it's disappointing. We spent $1.5 million on it and no one goes down there."
Council Chairman John Farrell said it appeared the town has met its goal of obtaining open space.
"What I'm hearing from the rest of the council is to step back," he told Speltz.
Speltz agreed the town has acquired enough open space, but the challenge now is to keep it that way.
"We used to have a big problem with ATVs in the Musquash (a conservation area in the northern part of town)," he said. "But not now. We also need to maintain the footprints of other species, have clean water and scenery."
Speltz said there is always room to coordinate efforts with the Londonderry Trailways group to maintain and utilize the open space, which adds up to almost 4,000 acres.
"We are in pretty close contact with them," he said.
Councilor Tom Dolan addressed the town's aquifer protection system.
An aquifer is an underground layer of permeable rock, sediment (usually sand or gravel), or soil that yields water.
"It behooves us to protect current and future citizens," he said. "I don't want the wells to go dry."
Councilor Joe Green said if all purchases of open space were off the table, he was interested in what areas of town have aquifers.
"We could change ordinances to protect those," he said.
After more discussion, Farrell directed Town Manager Dave Caron to have the Planning Board look into future development transfers and the town's aquifers.
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