Kimball Castle committee will press on for LCHIP grant after Gilford ConCom says 'no'

GILFORD — Although the Conservation Commission this week voted against spending money from its trust on acquiring the 20 acres of private land owned by Kimball Castle LLC., the Kimball Castle Wildlife Forest Committee says it will go forward with pursuing state money for preserving the castle.

Sandra McGonagle said yesterday the committee's intent is to complete an LCHIP ( Land and Community Heritage Investment Program) grant application for assistance in purchasing the property from the owner.

"Out intent always was to complete an LCHIP Grant, use money in the Kimball Castle Wildlife Forest Trust and raise money through donations," she said. She said there is about $200,000 in in the trust.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said the idea of asking if the Conservation Commission was interested in helping was his. He said the Conservation Commission has a Natural Resource Inventory Plan in place that has targeted specific properties for conservation and preservation and the decision against buying it was that the 20 acre Kimball Castle property was not on their priority list.

Conservation Commission Chair John Goodhue said yesterday that he felt the best thing his commission could do is nothing.

"This is crazy. Let's walk away from this," he said noting that he thinks the asking price of $700,000 is too much and that it would not be conservation money well spent.

Dunn said the town used money from the Wildlife Forest Committee to hire Fremeau Appraisals in Manchester to provide the town with an independent appraisal. He anticipates the appraisal will be presented at the Kimball Castle Forum on April 9 at the Gilford Town Hall and will cost between $3,000 and $3,500.

Once the town has an independent appraisal, in theory those who want to save the castle can go to the private owner an see if he'll accept an officer.

David Jodoin, who is the principal owner of Kimball Castle LLC, wants to demolish the castle and sell the property as a single family building lot. He told selectmen at a meeting last year that any hopes he had for restoring the castle are gone and that despite his repeated efforts to secure the property, people continue to trespass on his land and vandalize the castle.

In March of 2013, Town Code Enforcement Officer Dave Andrade determined the castle was unsafe and Jodoin needed either to tear down the castle or build and maintain a security fence around the property.

Selectmen have extended the deadline to destroy or fence the castle until April 30 so the group of people who would like to save the castle can have an opportunity to create a plan to purchase the property and safely preserve the castle.