New London, NH
In March of 1985, a gentleman named Ausbon Sargent used his life savings to purchase three acres of green space from Colby-Sawyer College and he immediately turned the land over to the Town of New London. That land is our Town Common, also called the Town Green or the Ausbon Sargent Common. According to the website of the
Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust (founded in 1987 and named in Mr. Sargent's honor), Mr. Sargent intended for the gift to be anonymous -- his name does not even appear on the deed transferring the land from the College to the Town.
The deed documents Mr. Sargent's intentions for the property's use: "undeveloped common land for the use of the Town, its citizens (including Colby-Sawyer College) and their invitees." The deed allows for "simple common public improvements in keeping with the traditional use of the Premises as a common, such as a bandstand, historical or commemorative markers, landscaping, etc…"
Were he alive today, I think Ausbon Sargent would be pleased with the use of the Common. There is, of course, the daily individual appreciation of the open space in the center of town, from picnics to Frisbees to ice cream enjoyment to sunbathing. On Wednesday afternoons, the Common fills with cars and tents of the many vendors participating in the New London Center for the Arts' Market on the Green, which by all accounts has been very successful in its inaugural year. On Fridays, the Common is dotted with lawn chairs and blankets as people gather to hear music hosted by the New London Bandstand Committee.
And, of course, there are the popular annual events, like last week's New London Garden Club Antiques Show and the Rotary Club's Winetasting and Auction in September. In the winter, the Dinner with Jack Frost winds its way around the white space, and last winter the Common hosted the North East Ski Joring Association's Winter Carnival, which drew a lot of spectators to the center of town, despite New London's infamous winter wind.
The granddaddy of Town Common events starts this week; the rides for Hospital Days will miraculously appear on Tuesday afternoon, allowing time for proper set-up and inspection before the midway opens on Thursday night. Although the community offerings have changed over the years, this
is the 86th year of Hospital Days, which, according to the Hospital's
website, was started in 1924 "by community volunteers who planned a day to engage the entire community in support of the Hospital."
Although we can all agree that we could use some rain, the dry summer has helped the Public Works Department keep the Common in good repair despite the weekly vehicular traffic. The repair work on the drainage at the front of the Common has held up well, eliminating the pooling that led to blackened, soggy grass at the center of our centerpiece.
With all of this public use, volunteers and attendees can help us keep the Common in better shape by keeping vehicular access (especially heavy vehicles) to a minimum, and even then we ask all drivers to access the Common only from Gould Road and not between the struggling trees on the edge of the Town Office driveway. In other words, please help us continue to provide you and our community non-profit organizations with a beautiful public common that we can treasure for years to come, just as Ausbon Sargent imagined.
Jessie Levine, Town
375 Main Street
New London, NH 03257
Phone: 603-526-4821 extension 13