Gilford selectmen won't support Kimball Castle owner's bid to have terms of trust changed

GILFORD — Selectmen voted unanimously last night not to support the draft pleading that would ask the Belknap County Superior Court to change the terms of the trust that would, among other things, allow the owner to tear it down. There was no public discussion between board members and no reason for their action was given.

The cy pres motion, as recommended to selectmen by owner David Jodoin, would allow him to tear down the old castle, which has been condemned by the town building inspector, allow Jodoin or its future owners to restrict access to the remaining nature preserve to one road but leave the town and easement for emergency access only, and to allow not more than one residential home to be built on the 25-acre portion of the property sold by the town to Jodoin in 1999.

Selectmen also voted to extend the demolition or fencing order from the building inspector until April of 2014 because voters will decide at the March annual Town Meeting whether or not to support the Jodoin's request.

The board also agreed to temporarily discontinue the public easement on the Class 6 road portion of the property and to discontinue parking until a fence is installed or the castle is demolished. This is for public safety reasons. They also voted to allow Jodoin to install a gate preventing access to the Class 6 portion of the road but to give a key to the DPW and public safety in case of emergency.

Selectmen voted unanimously against Jodoin's request for the town to pay for a portion of the road repairs caused, according to Jodoin, by allowing public access to the property from that road.

Jodoin has contended the conditions of the deed restrictions of the charitable trust cannot be met because Kimball Castle Properties, LLC was never able to raise the capital needed to restore the historic structure to a restaurant and lounge.

The structure, overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, has deteriorated significantly because of weather and vandalism, and the town ordered Jodoin to tear it down or install a fence surrounding it to reasonably prevent access.

The first cy pres change to the original deed restrictions was made in 1999 when the court allowed the property to be sold to a private party, Historic Inns of New England, LP. The owner of Kimball Castle Properties, LLC is one of the original owners of the limited partnership.
The first change provided the money from the sale be used to maintain most of the property for wildlife observation and recreation trails. As it stands now, the town of Gilford still holds $90,000 of the original $116,000 mortgage. The payments, which are current, provide funding for the Kimball Wildlife Committee to preserve the balance of the property for wildlife observation and recreation trails.