Belmont to seek LCHIP grant to help restore village green bandstand

BELMONT — Selectmen have voted to endorse a grant application for restoration work and other improvements to the town bandstand downtown.
Belmont Heritage Commission Chairman Linda Frawley told the selectmen at their meeting last night that she is in the process of applying for a grant under the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program.
Frawley told selectmen she hopes the grant will help cover the cost of new cedar shingles for the bandstand's roof, removal of lead paint and repainting of the 105-year-old structure, upgrades to some of the electrical fixtures and wiring, and replacement of some of the decorative finishes. All told, Frawley estimated the cost of the work would be around $35,000.
The bandstand was moved yesterday to a spot behind and to the south of the town library as part of the Belmont Village revitalization, which is designed to energize the village area through improvements and renovations.
If the LCHIP application is approved, the program would pay for half the cost of the work with the other half being matched by local sources – $8,750 from the town and another $8,750 from the Heritage Commission, Frawley said.
The selectmen unanimously approved endorsing the application with little discussion and authorized Town Administrator K. Jeanne Beaudin to sign any documents related to the application on behalf of the town.
In other business, selectmen voted to unanimously to amend the town license application regarding utility poles to make explicit the town has the right to tax the poles as property under the terms of existing state law.
The action was prompted by a suit filed by telecommunications utility FairPoint against 200-plus communities statewide, including Belmont. FairPoint contends since the company pays the state's telecommunications tax, allowing its poles to also be taxed by communities constitutes double taxation. But proponents of the tax argue that since the communities already tax the poles belonging to electric utilities it is unfair not to allow them not to tax FairPoint's poles.
Beaudin said under the terms of state law, Belmont taxes public utilities for their poles as well as for the use of the rights of way through which their lines run. She was not immediately able to provide the number poles which FairPoint owns in Belmont. However, she said that the total value of its poles and right-of-way use amounts to $1,147,000, for which the company is being taxed $24,899 in the latest tax year. She said FairPoint has paid the tax, but that the payment has been appealed.
A public hearing on the utility pole issue which preceded the vote drew no participants.
NOTE: Beaudin said she is in the process of drawing up requests for qualification for architectural services to look at possible uses for the Belmont Mill. She said she hoped to advertise the requests in October or early November and said her goal is to advertise it widely in hopes of getting multiple bids.