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Center Harbor wants to make bandstand property a town park

September 02, 2009
CENTER HARBOR — The town is working to make the land around the bandstand into a public park, reassuring residents that the land will be protected from development.

The bandstand is located on a grassy area between Main Street and Route 25 that is currently town owned. The owners of the abutting property on 23 Main Street own a small section of grassy area along with the parking lot for the building.

The town has been working on plans for a new police station, including examining possible locations with one of the locations closest to town being the Brooks Property located on Main Street near the library. The station would also encompass Morrill Park, which Board of Selectmen Chair Charley Hanson said would take up some of the park space.

"We need to come up with more park space," Hanson said.

Selectmen proposed that the area of the bandstand would be ideal as it already has a history of being used as park space and many people will sit and watch concerts by the Center Harbor Town Band in that area.

The town is working with the Attorney General's Office of Charitable Trusts on the best way to manage the area as a park.

A public hearing on the park was held during the Selectmen's Wednesday meeting.

"The concern we've heard is that people want to keep it the way it is," Hanson said.

A few residents in attendance asked if there was any intention of developing the land, or of the goal was to the way it is.

"I have been concerned that maybe something was going to happen to the land," said resident Nancy Kelley.

Hanson said declaring the area a park would likely mean a covenant would be placed on the property "making it less developable in the future." This means there was no intention to develop the land but rather protect it from development.

Kelley said the land is a popular place with residents, especially children.

"They really love to run and be able to run and not have their parents say 'Be careful, don't go on the grass.'" Kelley said. "Now they can roll in it."

"Our position is, no it is not a park; it has a gazebo with an amphitheater," Hanson said. "It has its character."

Hanson said it is an option to speak with the owners the 23 Main Street building about acquiring the other grassy section of the property.

"If we want to pursue and get that we have to have a way to assure them that they'll have parking," Hanson said, saying this is of special concern if work is done on Route 25 that might take the front spaces.

Hanson said the town is further learning about any possible steps needed to make the land a park, such as planting trees and others. A representative from the AGs office will soon come to take a look at the land and answer such questions.

Hanson said there would be no cost to making the land a park other than any legal fees to go through the process. Surveying might also be necessary.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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