Ossipee Board Discusses Constitution Park Gates

Ossipee — October 26, 2006 — George Eisener wants the gated entrance to Constitution Park in Long Sands development to be locked.

Eisener, who owns a home in the development, spoke with selectmen at their meeting Monday night. He started by asking a series of questions of Selectman Joseph Skehan, who was a selectman when the town built Constitution Park. Skehan said he believed that the purpose of the road into the park was for maintenance and service of the bridge and walkway. Asked why the gate was put in, Skehan responded that he believed it was put there “to stop vandals from going in there and holding parties and drinking.”

Although he said he had believed the gate was supposed to be locked, “It’s been brought to this board’s attention by Randy Lyman that any project you accept federal money on, you cannot lock the gate.”

Eisener said there is another gated entrance to the park on Route 25 and asked why it was locked. Although not selectman when the gates were put in, Skehan said, he believed that one was also put in to keep vandals, ATVs and snowmobiles out of the park. “I believe it was because there was a lot of vandalism going on with ATVs. They were ripping up the bridge. They were ripping up the walkway from Constitution Park to Long Sands, and in general the kids were raising hell.”

“So the town arbitrarily decides what should and shouldn’t be locked?” Eisener said. He questioned whether federal law required that the gate be unlocked.

“It may be that the park has to be open, but that doesn’t mean a maintenance gate has to be open any more than it means [the gate on Route 25] has to be open,” he said.

Selectman Harry Merrow disputed the assertion that the road was put in for maintenance purposes. The road is an old road that continues from Pequawket Trail, he said, and has been used by people to access the land. He said Richard White, whose father gave the land to the town, had no knowledge that the road was not supposed to be used. The gate was put in, he said, at the request of somebody at Long Sands “because parties were being held down there.”

Eisener had questioned whether the park was compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Merrow said the road may not be adequate for access for the disabled. But, he added, maybe the town should make improvements to make it more accessible.

Marge Vacca, who was on the committee to create the park, said she and her husband used the road to access the beach. He was disabled, she said, and the road allowed them to get to the beach. She said she was opposed to closing the road. “That was made so people of Ossipee can go down to the beach. Townspeople may want to maintain it. They should have access,” she said. Resident Kevin Houle seconded Vacca’s comments and recommended ripping the gate out altogether.

Eisener said he was requesting, on behalf of Long Sands Association, that the gate be locked again, and only used for maintenance. Merrow said he will not vote to lock the gate. If that decision was to be made, he said, it would have to be made by the other selectmen. Merrow said to Eisener, “I don’t understand why you are hell bent on keeping local people off that beach.”

Selectman Peter Olkkola asked Eisener why he is against having the gate open.

“It’s the traffic that goes down there. People park down there. Teenagers park down there at night. We don’t need them in the neighborhood,” he said. “We don’t need kids going down there and drinking in that area. What are they doing in a residential area that’s a dead end?”

Selectmen asked if Eisener called the police about that. “We have and they don’t respond,” he said. Selectmen said they would check with the police about complaints and their responses.

Eisener asked Olkkola why he wanted to keep it open. “Because its town property and people should have access to it. Every person who pays a tax bill in this town is subsidizing that piece of property and they should have the right to use it if they want to use it,” Olkkola said.

Resident Sam Martin suggested posting signs that the road was open from dawn to dusk. Such signs are usually respected, she said.

Eisener requested a written answer to a letter he had written to the selectmen in June. Selectmen said two weeks ago that the town would send a letter, but he has not seen one. Selectmen asked town administrator Martha Eldridge if she had responded. She said they had not directed her to respond. Merrow told Eisener the town would be sending a letter.

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