Council resolves to save Hathaway House

LACONIA — At the urging of the Heritage Commission the City Council last night adopted a nonbinding resolution calling on Cafua Management Company, LLC, the owners of the Hathaway House, to honor its original commitment to preserve, sell or lease the historic building on Union Avenue.

Cafua has applied to demolish the building. The Heritage Commission held a public hearing last week at which a majority of speakers favored protecting the building. Pam Clark, who chairs the commission, presented the council with a petition with "hundreds of signatures" calling for "immediate and definitive action" to that end.

Only Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) dissented. She reminded the council that the company, which developed the portion of the lot housing the Dunkin' Donuts outlet, made a significant investment in the city and pays some $20,000 in annual property taxes. "There are two sides to every story," she said, "and we're only hearing one side."

Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3) said there was a strong "sentiment" among members of the public that the building should be preserved. Acknowledging that ultimately city officials had no authority to forestall the demolition of historic buildings, he suggested there was no reason for the council not to add its voice to the call to preserve the Hathaway House.

Following the public hearing, the ordinance provides for the Heritage Commission to meet with the owner within 10 days to seek agreement on an alternative to razing the building. Without an agreement to preserve the building, the owner may proceed with demolition while the Heritage Commission, with the consent of the owner, can photograph and document the building as well as encourage the owner to salvage any of its important architectural features. Clark said she expects to meet with Greg Nolan of Cafua within the week.