Laconia Athletic and Swim Club is sold

By MICHAL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The Laconia Athletic and Swim Club has been acquired by Charlie Mabardy, president and chief executive officer of Mabardy Oil Inc. of Seabrook, who is a distributor of gas and diesel fuel and owns and operates a stable of service stations, convenience stores and car washes on the Seacoast as well as the Health Club of Concord.

Mabardy, doing business as 827 Main Street, LLC, purchased the once popular health club from ReadyCap Lending, LLC of Providence, New Jersey, which held the mortgage on the property, for $575,000. Mabardy is on vacation and was not available for comment.

The 24,887-square-foot building, with 18,075 square feet of usable space, including a pool, on three floors sits on a 1.15-acre lot and is assessed by the city for $1,193,100, of which $1,103,300 represents the value of the building itself.

In 1991, Tom and Lori Oakley acquired the building, which since it was built in 1962 housed the YMCA, and operated the facility very successfully for nearly a quarter of a century. However, in 2015 several factors combined to compel them to shutter the club. They were denied a federal loan for improvements to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs. Their primary mortgage holder filed for bankruptcy, hindering their efforts to refinance the operation. Creditors filed suit and, as the Oakley's struggled to trim costs, membership dwindled. In 2015, the day after Thanksgiving, the club closed.

After spending several months of seeking partners, the property was put up for auction in February 2016, but the auctioneer failed to appear. At a second auction in April, Optiline Enterprises of Hudson placed the only bid of $735,000, but the transaction never closed.

03-09 LASC

The Laconia Athletic and Swim Club property has sold to a Seabrook man for $575,000. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

No more mobile home parks at The Weirs, say city planners

By MICHEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — In response to a proposal from the City Council, the Planning Board this week agreed to prohibit the development of manufactured housing parks and subdivisions in the Commercial Resort District, which encompasses The Weirs, as well as to require a conditional use permit for the operation of a flea market or campground within the district.

The changes were originally included in the City Council's proposal to redraw the bounds and realign the uses in the district, which the Planning Board rejected last year.

At the same time, the board approved several other changes it first proposed in 2015, which were never formally endorsed by the council. These included prohibiting sexually oriented businesses, indoor storage and vehicle dealerships; permitting bed and breakfasts; requiring a special exception for nightclub; and a conditional use permit for a greenhouse.

These changes were recommended but he Planning Board in 2015, but never formally approved by the City Council.

The recommended changes will be referred to the City Council, which must approve amendments to the zoning ordinance.

The Commercial Resort District begins on Lake Street, just south of its junction with White Oaks Road, extends northward along Weirs Boulevard, includes the center of the Weirs and runs either side of Endicott Street North (US Route 3) to the Meredith town line. It also includes property along both sides of Endicott Street East (NH Route 11-B) east of the roundabout to just beyond the Weirs Community Center. Both specified commercial and residential uses are permitted throughout the district.

Conservation district looking for a little love from legislators

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The Belknap County Conservation District was established on Valentine's Day in 1946. Now in its 71st year, the district is looking for a little love from the Belknap County Delegation when it takes up funding for outside agencies Friday night at the Belknap County complex.
Last week the delegation rejected by a single vote a budget plan recommended by Delegation Vice Chairman Rep. Ray Howard (R-Alton), which would have completely eliminated the $92,400 in funding sought by the district. His plan would also have cut $75,000 in funding for the Belknap Economic Development Council and $31,245 for Genesis Behavioral Health.
Howard maintained that the conservation district is a private business which "gives federal tax dollars to private landowners to increase the value of their property." Donna Hepp, chairperson of the district, disputed his claim and said that the district is not a private company, but a recognized adjunct of county government with a 70-year history which is run by an all-volunteer board of directors.
Hepp points out that conservation districts, established in response to the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, are local units of government which are required by state law to carry out natural resource management programs. The 3,000 districts nationwide work with landowners and operators who are willing to help them manage and protect land and water resources on all public and private lands in the US.
She said the conservation district's mission is to help landowners and communities conserve natural resources and to help provide access to technical and financial resources that enable conservation action. The district is run by an all-volunteer board of directors and has one full-time employee. She said that district returns $12.50 in value for every dollar invested by the county last year and that its estimated value to the county is over $1 million
Hepp said that new grants received in 2016 included $70,033 from the New England Forest and Rivers Fund and $10,000 State Conservation Committee grants for projects at county-owned Gunstock Recreation Area and additional funding for Gunstock Brook restoration.
"County funding for staff and operating costs key to success, since most grants do not fund these costs," said Hepp.
Everett McLaughlin of the Gilford Conservation Commission says that BCCD has been invaluable in the Gunstock Brook project, serving as project manager and helping to obtain nearly $100,000 for a stream bank restoration project to repair a massive stream bank failure.
"Thank god for Lisa Morin, the program coordinator for the district. She had the patience and the skill to work on the grant request after we weren't able to get funded on our own," said McLaughlin.
He says he was really upset by the delegation's decision last year to cut the district's budget by $12,000 and said it is important that the county continue its partnership with the conservation district.
Aaron Lichtenberg of Winnipesaukee Woods Farm in Alton, who was named an associate supervisor of the conservation district last year, says that he has seen many worthwhile projects being undertaken by the district, including the New Hampshire Gleans-Belknap County project.
He said 5,800 pounds of food were harvested by volunteers and distributed to food pantries in the county as part of the NH Gleans. In his short time in New Hampshire, he has seen the benefits of many educational programs sponsored by the conservation district and is hoping that Belknap County legislators will see its value and fully fund its request.
The county delegation meets at 6 p.m. Friday at the Belknap County complex.

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