Selectmen have assigned a task force to explore options to improve access to the Merrimack River at Ferry Lane Park and other locations in town. The decision came about after many residents criticized a preliminary proposal from the state Department of Fish and Game to install a new boat ramp and 120-foot floating dock, nine car parking spaces, 12 trailer parking spaces, and a loading area and handicap space on state-owned land along the Merrimack River on Church Street. The state said it would pay the $550,000 to complete the project. At a meeting in January, residents presented selectmen with a signed petition against the proposal, and offered up concerns about the cost of policing the new ramp, noise, lighting, parking, and its potential effect on the town’s rural character. The task force, which will be composed of members of the Harbor Committee and the Open Space Committee, will explore various options around town for boating and fishing access to the Merrimack River, including at Ferry Lane, where access could be improved, selectmen stressed, but not necessarily expanded.