My Turn: Preserve the South End marsh

For the Monitor
Published: 7/26/2021 5:30:50 PM

The proposed development off Langdon Avenue in the south end is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

The South End marsh is a tiny gem surrounded by suburbia. Its inhabitants include heron, bald eagles and various species of waterfowl. Deer, bear and moose sometimes utilize this wetland due to its proximity to larger tracts of forested and agricultural habitat like Cilley, Russell-Shea and West Ironworks Road State Forests. Putting a large, multi-use development on a floodplain this close to such a sensitive ecological community is, to put it as politely as I can, misguided.

It’s not like we don’t need affordable housing. The housing crisis (not “folks don’t want to work anymore”) is the real reason why businesses are struggling to find workers these days. And with the current makeup of the New Hampshire legislature there will be no statewide push to help regular working people obtain a roof over their head.

But if the City of Concord really wanted to do something about putting roofs over people’s heads, why haven’t they addressed the homeless crisis? Breaking up the camps close to downtown (out of sight, out of mind) has only pushed Concord’s growing homeless population further into the woods where, thanks to our abundance of open space and our incredible trails network, they have easy access to new places to squat.

Interestingly, many of their new encampments are located on or near other sensitive natural areas, like the Soucook River Wildlife Management Area and Locke Wetland. I’ve notified police over a dozen times in the past year about homeless encampments I’ve found while out hiking around Concord, and lately, their response is “we’re not allowed to do anything about that.”

If only there were buildings sitting idle and unused, like perhaps, a large mall? City of Concord, please address the current threat to sensitive natural areas posed by your reluctance to address the homeless crisis before putting your stamp of approval on a project that will create yet another threat.

(Dan Williams lives in Concord.)

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