Gilford Selectboard says investment in Kimball Castle not in town's best interests

GILFORD — With the deadline of April 30 for the Kimball Castle to be "made safe" by either demolition or fencing approaching, the Board of Selectmen yesterday announced its preference for having what remains of the structure be razed. The board would like to see a single family home developed on the Locke's Hill property and a suitable memorial placed on nearby town-owned land.

In the meantime, the board invited residents to attend a public forum of the future of Kimball Castle at the Town Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 26, beginning at 7 p.m.

In April 2013, after Building Inspector Dave Andrade told the selectmen the Kimball Castle posed a risk to public safety, the board voted unanimously to authorize its owners, David and Mary Jodoin of Nashua, doing business as Kimball Castle Properties, LLC, to demolish it. Three times since the board has extended the deadline to comply with Andrade's order.

At a public hearing in August, 2013 a group of people, among them some who were not residents of Gilford, called for the castle to preserved. The selectmen invited those seeking to preserve the castle to submit a petitioned warrant article to the Town Meeting to determine if voters were willing to take steps, including including raising and appropriating town funds, to this end. No petitioned warrant article was submitted.

However, the board noted that the Kimball Wildlife Forest Committee suggested that the town purchase the property where the castle stands, drawing on grants, donations and trust funds, so that the castle can be allowed to collapse and the 23.66 acres added to the 179 acres of the Kimball Wildlife Forest. The transaction was projected to cost between $500,000 and $700,000.

The selectmen found that "this investment is not in the town's best interest, especially when we consider the cumulative costs of town ownership (to include having to manage the care of several other structures, dealing with inevitable trespassers, potential liabilities, and the loss of tax revenues) for the sake of a dilapidated castle that would cost a fortune to rebuild."

By letter, the selectmen advised Sandy McGonagle, who chairs the Kimball Wildlife Forest Committee, they have concluded that "there is very little public support for the town to re-acquire this structure or the land on which it resides" and that the board agreed the property should remain on the tax rolls as a single family house lot. The board suggested the committee turn its attention to planning an appropriate memorial to the castle somewhere in the forest.