Benson Park Committee Establishment and Accomplishments
On December 31, 2008, the Town of Hudson acquired 166 acres of land previously known as Benson’s Wild Animal Farm from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. It took over eight years to accomplish this feat. The Quit Claim Deed was accepted officially by the town at the State House from the Governor on January 23, 2009.
To maintain the park, the Hudson Board of Selectmen appointed a committee consisting of nine members: eight citizen volunteers and one Selectmen representative; as well as 2 alternate members. This committee operates with various subcommittees to accomplish its mission of providing passive recreation activities for the public and is overseen by the Recreation Director.
The first major task of the committee was to stabilize the remaining buildings within the park as well as continue the clean up process that had been ongoing for several years. The park has six buildings. The Haselton Barn is located in the southwest corner of the property while the other buildings include the Office, Train Station, Elephant Barn, Gorilla House and A-frame. In addition, there are two small structures that remain known as the “Old Woman and the Shoe” and the Ticket Booth. To date the A-frame, Gorilla House, Elephant Barn and Office have received roofing repairs and other structural repairs are ongoing. The “Old Women and the Shoe” has been fully restored. The Ticket Booth was renovated into an information center by an Eagle Scout. There are two other Eagle Scout projects currently planned in the park.
The park depends upon volunteers to help maintain, restore and preserve it. Volunteerism is high within the park as demonstrated by the attendance at clean up days that are held throughout the year. The park became overgrown in vegetation in the twenty years prior to its acquisition by the town. Volunteers have restored various parts of the park such as the Outlook areas, the amphitheater, the bear and bird cage areas and many of the trails both outside and within the historical district of the park. The trails outside the historic area cover the parts of park that were not part of the original animal farm and offer a unique opportunity to explore undeveloped land in the middle of Hudson.
Benson Park officially opened on May 29, 2010 as a park for passive recreation and a grand opening was held on September 25, 2010. Governor John Lynch attended the grand opening as well as the Alvirne High School Marching Band. The park is now open daily during daylight hours and is free to the public.