Director outlines timeline for development of new Laconia Master Plan

LACONIA — Planning Director Shanna Saunders outlined a budget of some $120,000, consisting entirely of grants, and timetable of between 24 and 30 months for the preparation and completion of a new Master Plan to the City Council this week.

Saunders told the councilors that the 2014-2015 budget appropriates $20,000 for the Master Plan, which together with equal appropriations in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 brings the total allocated for the project to $60,000. She explained that municipal funding would be offset in whole or in part by grants.

Saunders said that the Orton Family Foundation of Middlebury Vermont and Denver, Colorado has awarded the city $75,000 worth of in-kind technical services, including services, analysis, mapping, communication and outreach. The Carsey Institute of the University of New Hampshire, which administered the New Hampshire Listens program, has contributed similar services valued at $25,000. And the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation has underwritten the preparation of the Master with a cash grant of $20,000.

Saunders said that she expects to begin work on the Master Plan in June and complete the first four chapters of the plan — community character, land use, economic development and housing — in a year and aim to finish the other chapters — transportation, natural resources, cultural and historic resources and community facilities and services — by December 2016. State law recommends that municipalities revise their master plans every five to 10 years. The city last adopted its master plan in May, 2007.

Note: The City Council approved the request of the Weirs Action Committee to designate the new roundabout at the junction of Endicott Street and Weirs Boulevard as Blackstone Circle. In 1922, the City Council named the intersection Blackstone Square in honor of Guy H. and Herbert W. Blackstone, brothers who died during the First World World. The brothers were the sons of Captain Herbert A. Blackstone, a shipbuilder from Maine, who settled in Laconia in 1886 after building the "Eagle," which was launched at Lakeport that year. He also built the "Lamprey" and "Cyclone" and captained the "Maid of the Isle" and "Mouint Washington." His second wife, Mary, owned and operated Blackstone's Lunch, Gas & Oil at The Weirs in the 1940s, before selling the business in 1945, when its name was changed to Handy Landing.