Fewer Laconia residents and businesses are recycling


LACONIA — When the mandatory curbside recycling program was introduced in July 2013, the goal was to recycle 30 percent of the solid waste stream, but four years later City Manager Scott Myers has concluded "It appears that we have peaked somewhere in the 22 percent to 24 percent range."

The program aimed to reduce the cost of collecting, transporting and disposing of solid waste. The recycling contract provides for collecting recyclable materials at the curbside every other week as well as emptying the four remote dumpsters at a fixed cost irrespective of the tonnage collected. Consequently, each ton removed from the solid waste stream by recycling spares $150 in collection, transportation and disposal costs.

However, the solid waste expenditures, excluding compensation and benefits, has not decreased but increased by more than $150,000, from $1,446,916 in 2013-2014 to $1,598,250 in 2015-2016.

The mandatory recycling ordinance requires residents and businesses to separate designated materials for recycling from trash as well as limits residences to two 32-gallon containers of trash each week and businesses and multi-family buildings to seven containers. There is no limit to the volume of recyclable materials collected at the curbside, but they must be placed in appropriately marked containers.

Earlier this summer, the city undertook an audit of its trash collection routes in an effort to measure compliance with the mandatory recycling program. Afterwards letters were sent to some 700 property owners, about a fifth of all the stops on the five routes, who were found out of compliance. Specific infractions, such as failure to recycle, failure to separate and excessive trash, were noted, and directions for complying with the ordinance were offered.

Myers said that the letters were mailed, so he expected recycling to increase over the prior collection cycle or the same cycle the year before. However, the volume of recyclables collected at the curbside actually declined and was less than both the prior two-week period and the same two-week period a year ago.

"We're at where we're at," Myers said Friday, "We've squeezed out what there is to squeeze."

He said he will report to the City Council when it meets Monday, but other than continuing to educate property owners and enforce the ordinance he has no specific recommendations. He conceded that a pay-as-you-throw program, which requires purchasing marked bags for disposing of trash, is the "only logical alternative." An evenly divided City Council scuttled a pay-as-you-throw program in 2013 as then Mayor Mike Seymour cast the deciding vote against it.

Second phase of WOW Trail begins with clearing brush


LACONIA — Since work began earlier this month, the entire length of the second phase of the Winnipesaukee-Opechee-Winnisquam (WOW) Trail has been grubbed, leaving a strip some 5,000 feet long cleared of topsoil and brush from New Salem Street to the Belmont town line.

The trail runs alongside the railway for virtually its entire length. After swinging around a pair of historic railway sheds between New Salem Street and Water Street, it crosses the property at the corner of Water Street and Fair Street that last housed The Citizen newspaper to join the Fair Street Bridge. Crossing the bridge, the trail rejoins the railway, crosses Bay Street and runs past the foot of Keasor Court toward Bartlett Beach, where a boardwalk will carry it over a wetland. Then a bridge will take the trail over Durkee Brook from where it will parallel the railroad track and Court Street to join the Belmont Recreation Trail, which runs between Us Route 3 and Lake Winnisquam for 1.8 miles nearly to Mosquito Bridge. With the completion of the second phase, there will be 4 miles of walking and biking trail between Lakeport and the Mosquito Bridge in Belmont.

Now that the path is cleared, Allan Beetle said a sub-base will laid and the trail paved with asphalt. At the same time, the boardwalk and bridge remain to be constructed and drainage must be installed at several places. He said that although the trail will be 10 feet wide for virtually its whole length, there may be spots where it narrows to 8 feet to accommodate abutting properties, one of which encroaches into the railroad right-of-way where the trail is built.

John H. Lyman & Sons Inc. of Gilford is constructing the trail after submitting a winning bid of $876,000 for the project, which is expected to be completed in October.

07-23 WOW trail work 1

The WOW Trail skirts two ramshackle sheds, which the New Hampshire Bureau of Rails deemed historic and required by preserved. Denise Littlefield, who succeeded her late father Lionel Labonte as the owner of Stratham Tire, donated a portion of the abutting property to swing the trail past the sheds. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

07-23 WOW trail work 2

The WOW Trail passes the southern end of Bartlett Beach then continues along the shore of Lake Winnisquam to offer expansive views of the lake. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)Trail

Lakes water quality plan to be presented Aug. 3


MEREDITH — The Lake Winnipesaukee Association, in partnership with FB Environmental Associates of Portland, Maine, will present a plan to address threats to the water quality in Lake Waukewan and Lake Winona at a public meeting at the Community Center on Wednesday, Aug. 3, beginning at 6 p.m.

The watershed of the two lakes includes five towns — Meredith, New Hampton, Center Harbor, Holderness and Ashland — and a mix of seasonal and permanent homes as well as some commercial and industrial properties. Both lakes suffer from low concentrations of dissolved oxygen, which hinder aquatic life, while Lake Waukewan, the source of Meredith's drinking water, has been marked by blooms of toxic cyanobacteria.

The Watershed Restoration Plan offers recommendations and strategies for reducing nutrients, chiefly phosphorus, and pollutants from reaching the lakes. Measures include public education, community planning, land conservation, best management practices, site restoration projects and water quality monitoring. The plan aims to encourage consideration of long-term strategies for improving water quality and safeguarding natural resources within the watershed among citizens, municipalities and state agencies.

The project was financed in part by a Watershed Assistance Grant awarded by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services with funds from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.