The town announced the acquisition of the lot, located between Country Club Road and 7-Eleven, earlier this week.
Town officials say that, although there isn’t any formal plan for the parcel yet, it will become public greenspace.
“It’s basically still up in the air,” said Dover Selectboard Chair Linda Holland. “We have a conceptual plan, and there are a lot of ideas out there.”
Economic Development Specialist Ken Black said the lot’s location, in the business district and bordered by Route 100 and the Valley Trail, makes it the perfect spot for a West Dover common. Such a concept has already been anticipated in landscaping designs created by the town’s landscaping committee, working with Lamoreaux & Dickinson. The conceptual design includes a few pieces of playground equipment, benches, and picnic tables.
“It’ll be a greenspace that will allow people to congregate in the middle of town,” he said. “Young people with families can stop there when they’re walking on the trail with their kids, meet other kids there, and they’ll have a place to play.”
The town negotiated a purchase price of $150,000 for the lot with property owner Edward Barber. Town officials say they believe the price was a bargain for one of the last lots in the heart of Dover’s business district, and with access to town services. The town used money from its 1% local option tax fund to cover the purchase.
Holland notes that the access to services such as water, sewer, and electricity, would be critical if the town sought to include a public restroom at the area. “There’s really no place, if you’re driving through Wilmington or Dover, that has public facilities,” Holland says.
The town is planning for parking at the site, about 10 to 12 spaces, Holland says, which would help alleviate concerns from business owners along Route 100 that Valley Trail users are parking in their lots.
Black says he expects the small public park will help stimulate business along the trail. “It will allow people to congregate in the middle of town,” Black said. “People will be there for a while, and they’ll decide to get a slice of pizza, or go to lunch somewhere, or buy something at the store.”
The town has also discussed building a gazebo at the site. “There could be space for a concert type of thing, a farmers’ market – a whole host of things,” Black said. “It’s going to be a nice, friendly, inviting place to be. There will be something for everyone.”
But, even though there is an existing conceptual plan, Holland says nothing is set in stone. There will be a public process to take input and discuss ideas before a final plan is approved. She says the process will be up for discussion at the next selectboard meeting.
Black says public input is crucial to the process. “I think there will be several public meetings,” he said. “Our intent would be to form a committee to develop the details of what would go in there, have the architects draw up the plans, and we’d execute that. It’s a multistep process and the public would be involved in that.”