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Laconia police have the 'busiest summer on record'

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Police Chief Chris Adams told the Laconia Police Commission Thursday that this summer has been one of the busiest on record.

He said in July alone, there were 200 more calls for service than there were last July and the activity increase is spread over all three shifts.

"I don't know if it's the weather or what," Adams said.

In July, police made 129 arrests, conducted 428 motor vehicle stops, issued 347 warnings and 26 citations, and investigated 53 car accidents. On the positive side, he said there were no fatal crashes in July.

Adams said 15 of the 53 accidents were caused by inattentive drivers, including some that involved cell phone use. Lt. Thomas Swett said he has applied for a grant to help with enforcement of the hands-free law.

Adams also told the commission that there have been quite a few heroin/fentanyl overdoses in recent months and that some of them are suspected to involve a drug that goes by the nickname "bath salts."

He said Swett has put together an application for some of the $1.5 million appropriated in the state budget to combat opioid addiction. Swett said that if the grant is approved, the money will be spent on prevention, treatment and enforcement in about equal parts.

Adams said the department did very well during its recent re-accreditation process through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies or CALEA and, but for a few minor things, he said the department scored very well.

As to accreditation, resident Dennis Lintz noted that during the CALEA public comment period, residents were given 10 minutes each for public comment, while the commission only allows two minutes of public comment for each person.

Lt. Allan Graton said that the length of time for CALEA is because the accreditation process only occurs every three to four years but the police commission meets every month.

Commissioner Thomas Tarr said he contacted about eight or nine other police commissions in the state and learned that on average, they allow between two and three minutes per person.
Lintz has attended nearly every meeting of the commission in the past two years. His primary complaint is the department's alleged use of confidential informants and thinks that cutting them breaks for their information somehow led to the death of one teenager and the serious injuries to another who were stuck by a car in 2013 on Messer Street.

To this end, Lintz has also peppered the department with Right to Know requests that have taken hundreds of man hours to process.

Nevertheless, Lintz said Thursday that he feels that a two-minute limit on public comment restricts his right to free speech.

City Tennis Tournament at Memorial Park to take place Aug. 28

LACONIA — The Laconia City Tennis Tournament for 12- to 18-year-olds will get underway at Memorial Park on Sunday, Aug. 28, with play continuing throughout the week.
The Laconia Parks and Recreation Department approved the request for the use of the Memorial Park tennis courts for the tournament Monday night following a presentation by 17-year-old Nezir Alic, who is organizing the tournament.
"I like to play tennis and there were no tournaments scheduled, so I decided to try and put one together," said Alic, who said that there will be a $10 fee for competitors and there will be a trophy for the winner.
He said those who want to enter the tournament can register at laconiacitytennistournament.weebly.com.
"If enough people sign up, there will be boys and girls divisions," said Alic, who is hoping that the tournament will become an annual event.
The tournament hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

– Roger Amsden

 

Gilford approves driveway crossing for Airport Commons

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — As work continues at the Airport Commons retail plaza, which is the home of the Gilford Cinemas, the project developers got another piece of good news Tuesday night when the Conservation Commission voted to allow a new entrance to cross some wetlands along Route 11.

According to the wetland application passed by the Conservation Commission, the proposed new entrance is directly across from the eastern most exit of the Laconia Bypass.

Applications indicate that the crossing is at the highest point in the field and that a culvert will run underneath the entrance so the field will not be divided into two separate wetlands.

Project designer William Stack, who is with Steven Smith Associates, said the impact to the "functions and values of the total wetlands" will be insignificant as a roadway, a sewer main and other utility services have been installed through this area in the past.

The town has long supported the upgrade and future expansion of the newly named Airport Commons and considers it beneficial for the community and the commercial district.

WJP Development LLC of Portsmouth plans on purchasing the property but said last year that improving what is there and potentially adding to the shopping center was contingent on getting a new entrance directly off Route 11.

Initially the state Department of Transportation balked at the idea but in September of 2015 it approved the new entrance and also secured the agreement of the governor and Executive Council.

The ongoing improvements do not involve any additions to the existing footprint so a site plan review was not needed.

Planning Director John Ayer said that should Airport Commons expand in the future, a site plan will need to be filed and approved by the Planning Board. Any special exceptions or variances, should they be needed, would go before the Zoning Board of Adjustments.

The project has also been given a green light from the state Division of Historical Resources and the state Natural Heritage Bureau.
The current renovation is expected to be completed this fall. The Gilford Cinemas have remained open during construction as has the Gilford House of Pizza.

08-18 Airport Commons plan

This map shows the proposed new entrance to Airport Commons (at top left), as approved by the Gilford Conservation Commission Tuesday night. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

 

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