To the editor: FPR wants to pave paradise

Lowell Lake update: “They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.” Joni Mitchell sang that in 1967. But 52 years later, some people who should know better still haven’t gotten the message.

Our Department of Forest Parks and Recreation presented its Master Plan for Lowell Lake to the public on July 26 in a format that was designed to squelch debate.

Instead of a verbal presentation with the customary Q&A, FPR opted for an array of signboards. The information shown there by a series of private contractors revealed for the first time to the public that extensive plans have been under way for some time to re-purpose the former resort as a wedding/banquet/party facility, and for a group of about 11 cabins for overnight use.

The cabins are basically 50-year-old crumbling tear-downs, but FPR is seeking designation for them as historic structures to have another official agency put a blessing on its foolishness. What a joke! As for the banquet facility, if FPR really wanted to get into that business, why wouldn’t it consider buying one of the local properties, such as the Mill Tavern in Londonderry? Much cheaper than the $3 million of our money they’re proposing to spend on at Lowell Lake. Were you out there begging the state for a banquet facility at Lowell Lake? I wasn’t.

And about those parking lots. FPR states there are currently only 19 spaces available for parking. They want to build a much larger lot to increase the number of spaces to 45 to 50, and an additional lot to accommodate boat trailers. Yet, at a given moment on a recent Sunday there were 37 vehicles parked in the existing “19” spaces, many of them carrying boats. (There were 40 watercraft on the lake that day.) The lake is already overcrowded! Building out more parking will only diminish the experience for us all.

At every point of the FPR presentation they put forward the environmentally friendly aspect of the development. Make no mistake: This is a lure. They will give you “environmentally friendly” cabins, lodge, parking lots, rain gardens, bath houses,  and assorted infrastructure (because that’s what they DO) up the wazoo.

But do you really want an environmentally friendly replica of Jones Beach, Long Island, right here in Londonderry, where once we had a pristine one-of-a-kind, non-intensively developed State Park? (By the way, the latter is what FPR agreed to when it held collegial public meetings in 1996.) At least they have not yet proposed an environmentally friendly  environmentally friendly “boutique” and an environmentally friendly “swinging hot spot.”

So, contact your legislators. Reps. Kelly Pajala and Tom Bock and Sens. Alice Nitka, Alison Clarkson and Dick McCormack   They can make this bad plan not happen!

And do log in to the state’s feedback survey thru Sept. 23 to make your voice heard:

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Andrew Harper

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  1. C. Rumrill says:

    I think he meant it figuratively not literally but it could happened no on want to get there car dirty . You never know what you’ve lost till it’s gone. I remember one night the loons I’m afraid for the wildlife

  2. Doug Friant says:

    The FRP does not want to pave paradise. To equate Joni Mitchell’s quest to stop overdevelopment in California in the 1960s to returning overnight camping to Lowell Lake is more than a stretch.

    I could go along with the idea of saving the wilderness area in Lowell Lake if people were suggesting removing the dam and returning the area to wilderness as it was before 1880, but I haven’t heard anyone suggesting that.

    What I have heard is people wanting to save Lowell Lake as it is now, and keeping it for themselves rather than sharing it with all Vermonters as a state park that welcomes overnight guests as it did for more than 100 years.

    Right now Lowell Lake is a manmade lake without enough parking, a beautiful lodge and outbuildings that need to be renovated and a ton of potential to host guests to our area. Guests who will spend money in our town, guests who might even choose to settle in Londonderry and help reverse our decline.

    Londonderry is declining since the 1980s. We have lost hotels and inns, restaurants, our school population has declined, property values have stagnated and new construction is virtually nonexistent. Making Lowell Lake welcoming to visitors is a good thing. It will bring interest to our area and let others enjoy what we have been enjoying for years.

    If there were going to be drunken wild & swinging parties at Lowell Lake they would be happening now. But they aren’t, and they won’t – particularly if families are enjoying renovated cabins and rangers are on station overnight.

    The idea of “bath houses up the wazoo” is just silly – it’s not going to happen. What will happen is a beautiful park will be maintained. Trails will be kept and native vegetation will be planted.

    More visitors will come, it is true. That is called sharing.