By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA —The City Council this week agreed to extend improvements to Lakeside Avenue at The Weirs beyond Tower Street to Foster Avenue while at the same time endorsing the recommendation of City Manager Scott Myers to install parking kiosks rather than parking meters along the street.
In June, the council voted to authorize spending $1.35 million, funded by borrowing serviced by the Weirs Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District, to bury overhead utilities as well as install new street lights, concrete sidewalks with brick accents, and stamped colored concrete crosswalks between Route 3 and Tower Street.
Extending the underground utilities, adding street lights and install concrete sidewalks from Tower Street to Foster Avenue is projected to add $250,000 to the cost of the project, bring the total cost to $1.6 million. The Weirs TIF District will fund the entire project by paying the debt service on a borrowing with a term of 20 years.
Only Councilor Brenda Baer (ward 2), who voted in favor of the original project to Tower Street, dissented. After Myers explained the financing of the project Mayor Ed Engler asked, "Everybody understands the numbers we're talking about?" and Baer replied "Unfortunately."
When the improvements were discussed at an earlier meeting, Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5) remarked that the success of the city's investment at The Weirs would depend on the business and property owners at resort investing in the improvement of their properties.
This week, Robert Ames of Half Moon Enterprises reminded the council that "There has been lots of investment on the street" and pointed to the Weathervane Restaurant, Tower Hill Tavern and Cozy Inn along with the removal of a water slide, new facade on the arcades, new dining room at the Winnipesaukee Marketplace and other improvements.
Nevertheless, Hamel repeated his concern. He recalled that his parents both worked at the Winnipesaukee Pier and that he has been visiting The Weirs for all his years, then said "It's been the same for my 65 years." Noting the investment the city is making to enhance the resort, he turned to the property and business owners at The Weirs and said "It won't help if the people that own property up there don't invest in it. We have to all be in on this."
Meanwhile, the question of whether to replace the parking meters on Lakeside Avenue with kiosks or meters has arisen from time to time without being either resolved. This week Meyers presented an comparative analysis of the cost of installing 18 kiosks or 105 meters to serve the 210 parking spaces. The estimated costs of purchasing and operating kiosks and meters for three years are $170,325 and $192,480 respectively while the annual operating costs are $18,985 for kiosks and $39,060 for meters.
Moreover, Myers said that kiosks issue a receipt for a specific amount of time, which is displayed on the dashboard of the parked car, while the time purchased on a meter remains there for another motorist when the parked car is moved. Without free time on meters at empty spaces, parking revenue is expected to increase with the introduction of kiosks.
Myers said that the purchase and installation of the kiosks could be funded by drawing on unexpended funds from several accounts in the city budget.
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 350