Speed table on Gilford side of Summit Avenue OK’d, but similar work denied on Laconia side


LACONIA — Within days of the Gilford selectmen deciding, against the advice of Director of Public Works Peter Nourse to install a speed table on the north side of the bridge leading to Governor's Island, the City Council, on the unanimous recommendation of its Public Works Committee, refused to follow suit by putting a speed table on Summit Avenue south of the bridge.

Summit Avenue runs approximately a third of a mile northward from NH Route 11B to the foot of the bridge that carries traffic to Governor's Island, then continues over the span into Gilford and crosses the island to join Edgewater Drive midway along the north shore. Parking is prohibited on both sides of the road, which is lined with just seven residential properties. A speed table is a type of wide speed bump.

Although the speed limit on Summit Avenue was reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph some years ago, residents continued to complain about speeding traffic, and last September petitioned the City Council for a stop sign at the intersection with Wentworth Cove Road. The council denied the request, but asked City Manager Scott Myers to explore the the prospect of installing a speed table to slow traffic.

In its report to Paul Moynihan, Laconia's director of Public Works, McFarland Johnson, Inc. of Concord described two alternatives, a "parabolic" speed hump approximately 12 feet long and rising to 3 inches at its center, and a flat-topped speed table with 6-foot tapered ramps on either side leading to a 10-foot flat-topped section, without recommending either. Speed humps and tables, the engineers reported, typically reduce speeds by between 20 percent and 25 percent. The estimated cost of the first option was $6,500 and of the second $7,500.

Richard Homsi of 84 Summit Ave., who originally requested the stop sign, insisted "we need to slow the traffic down," claiming that "many, many cars are doing more than 45 mph and many are over 50. It's not something being imagined. Not one person up here barking." He warned "someone is going to get killed and I don't want to see it."

The committee was not persuaded. Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6), who chairs the panel, noted that Summit Avenue is in very poor condition and will likely be rebuilt in the near future.

"Why install a speed bump when it will have be torn up when the road is repaired in a couple of years?" he asked.

Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) said that a traffic count of 300 vehicles per hour is the minimum required to qualify for traffic control measures, which is almost twice the volume on Summit Avenue.

"The numbers do not support it," Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) said flatly, before offering a motion not to recommend a speed table to the council and striking the item from the council's agenda.

When the committee considered Homsi's request for a stop sign earlier this year, Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams said that data collected by a traffic recorder mounted on Summit Avenue tracked more than 1,000 vehicles for two days and while a half dozen drivers were clocked at more than 50 mph, the average speed on both days was slightly below the posted limit.

Meanwhile, last week the Board of Selectmen in Gilford agreed to install a speed table on Summit Avenue on the town's side of the bridge in response to a request from the Gilford Island Association. Nourse told the board that traffic monitoring indicated that 64 percent of motorists obey the speed limit of 25 mph that applies throughout the island, and speeding is confined to a limited number of habitual offenders.

Honoring Merrill Fay

03-29 Fay 25Mar16237185

Merrill Fay is welcomed onto the ice by a large crowd of "lakers" during the celebration in his honor naming the Laconia Ice Arena the "Merrill Fay Arena" on Friday evening. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)


Laconia Ice Arena renamed for a true legend of hockey



LACONIA — Merrill Fay doesn't skate, but he's a member of the New Hampshire Legends of Hockey. He's never scored a goal but he knows how to do the hard, behind-the-scenes work that helps others achieve their goals on the ice.
And, as Jay Meegan, president of the Winnipesaukee Skating Club, told a crowd of over 300 people at the Laconia Ice Arena Friday night, Fay embodies the truth of the saying "It's amazing what you can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit."
Fay, who has shunned the limelight and tried to remain an unobtrusive, behind-the-scenes presence in the Lakes Region Youth Hockey Association and the creation of the Laconia Ice Arena, was pulled into the spotlight Friday night in a ceremony which was a surprise to him, in which the arena was renamed the Merrill P. Fay Arena.
"There's nobody more responsible for this place, there's nobody who's done more for it, before it was built and after it was built," said Meegan, who pointed out that Fay has been involved for more than 40 years in helping bring hockey and ice skating facilities to the Lakes Region.
" I love to watch people skate," said Fay, whose father, Wilbur, was the hockey coach for for Spaulding High School in Rochester from 1948-1952. Merrill Fay played football and basketball at Spaulding High School and was class president in 1953 and 1954. He graduated in 1954 and attended Phillips Exeter Academy for a post-graduate year in 1955.
He then attended the University of Michigan, continuing his education there in 1956, 1957 and 1958. Unfortunately, his father passed away in the spring of 1958 and Fay made the decision to take over the family's boat yard in Smith Cove on Lake Winnipesaukee.
In the early 1970s, he maintained a skating rink at the boat yard, flooding the ice and keeping it plowed after snow storms. He became involved in hockey in 1978 in the Lakes Region when his son, Will, was 7 years old. He later became chairman of the Lakes Region Youth Hockey Association and helped built the first rink in Gilford at Varney Point. It was on public land and Fay had Bruins' stars Bobby Orr and Don Awrey come up from Boston to help raise money for the new outdoor rink. A roof went up in 1984 and Fay purchased a used Zamboni from the Nashua Ice Palace.
The rink was named the Arthur A. Tilton Rink in honor of the long-time boat builder at Fay's Boat Yard, who was also chairman of the town's recreation commission.
In 1989, Fay helped form the nonprofit Winnipesaukee Skating Club. He purchased seven-plus acres of land in Laconia and did a considerable amount of fundraising towards the $1.5 million goal. When the doors opened in 1994 as the Laconia Ice Arena, it was virtually debt free.

Merrill's son, Will, has been the manager of the arena since it opened.
Fay recalled that a Laconia master plan from the 1960s envisioned the creation of an indoor skating rink and said that the realization that it wasn't going to happen was one of the forces that motivated him.
"This was my vision, and the boat yard supported this 100 percent and that was the main thing," said Fay, who said that his son, Jeff, who now runs the boat yard, helped make it possible for him to have the time to devote to the fundraising needed to build and maintain the arena.
"All the people that helped us with the Winnipesaukee Skate Club, a lot of them were here tonight and were the ones who really built the rink," said Fay, who said that it took nearly seven years of fundraising to make the arena a reality.
He was presented a shovel which will mark his special parking place at the arena and noted that it was the same shovel that was used by former President George H. W. Bush when he took part in a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the Laconia Ice Arena, which was held at Laconia Airport around 1993 or 1994.
Fay has always been friendly with many of the Boston Bruins players who have ties to the Lakes Region, including Bruce Crowder and Rick Middleton, who helped unveil the banner renaming the arena for him.
And he was also friends with Bob Wilson, long-time voice of the Boston Bruins, who spent a lot of time on Lake Winnipesaukee in his 23-foot Chris Craft ''Big Mouth,'' which he kept at Fay's Boat Yard.

''I used to drive him to the Boston Garden after he had problems with his vision,'' recalls Fay.
Fay, who was inducted into the New Hampshire Legends of Hockey in 2006 for his leadership in building the Laconia Ice Arena, told the crowd assembled at the arena Friday night that he was humbled by the honor and said that it was "unbelievable " to think of all the people who have been able to enjoy the arena over the years. He predicted that someday one of the hockey players who started skating at the arena will be playing in the National Hockey League.

Merrill Fay says a word of thanks to the large crowd of “Lakers” who gathered in his honor during the naming of the Laconia Ice Arena to the “Merrill Fay Arena” on Friday evening.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Merrill Fay says a word of thanks to the large crowd of "Lakers" who gathered in his honor during the naming of the Laconia Ice Arena to the "Merrill Fay Arena" on Friday evening. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Merrill Fay is welcomed onto the ice by a large crowd gathered for the celebration in his honor. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Merrill Fay is welcomed onto the ice by a large crowd gathered for the celebration in his honor. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Gilford police create rules for body camera use


GILFORD — With the final approval from selectmen last week to purchase body cameras for the police department, Chief Anthony Bean Burpee is now working with his team to create and impose a set of rules and regulations regarding their use.
While not the first police agency in New Hampshire to have to come up with a policy, Gilford's guidelines, to a degree, may soon be governed by a state law that is winding its way through the legislature.
House Bill 617-FN seeks to require all state police officers to wear body cameras with audio capabilities beginning on Jan. 1. The bill has been approved by the New Hampshire House and is now being considered in the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety. Should it pass the Senate, it would go to the governor's office for approval.
Each community police department that opts in the future to use body cameras will be paying for their own cameras. In Gilford's case, the department is entering a five-year lease with Taser International for a total of $121,937 with $36,401 coming from this year's budget and four consecutive payments of $21,384 each in successive years.
However, if the bill passes as it is currently written, the rules regarding the used of body cameras will apply to any law enforcement agency in the state that uses or will use body cameras.
The recordings created by law enforcement are subject to the Right-To-Know Laws in New Hampshire and releasing them to the public or the media is something the original bill tried to prevent.
For the general public and the media, this is a key clause that has been litigated once in the state in the shooting by police of Hagen Esty-Lennon. In that case, the Haverhill Police Department supported the release of the recordings because they supported what police considered and was later determined to be a justified shooting.
In this instance, there were four total recordings, which were the two body cameras on the two responding Haverhill Police officers, the third belonged to a Haverhill sergeant who arrived moments after the shooting, and the fourth was a video dashboard camera on the cruiser driven by the officers.
Gilford cruisers have no cameras.
The people opposing the release of the recordings and who triggered the civil suit were the family of Esty-Lennon, who said that releasing the recordings would violate their right to privacy, especially that of Esty-Lennon's two children. The court granted the New Hampshire Union Leader Corp., WMUR-TV, and IndepthNH.org the right to intervene or to argue the case, based on the Right-To-Know laws.
In September 2015, Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Peter Fauver split the difference by using a three-step legal process outlined in a previous state Supreme Court decision about privacy interests.
The first test is whether or not the disclosure is a privacy interest. The second test, if the court finds it is in the interest of privacy is that it is in the interest of the public to see and hear what's on the recordings. If there is a public interest, the third test is balancing that against the privacy rights of individuals.
He ordered the most graphic portions of the recordings of the two responding officers would not be released to the public or the media, saying no public interest is served. He said seeing Esty-Lennon "laying in a pool of blood does not advance the public's interest."
Fauver said the privacy issues regarding the sergeant's body camera were that the visuals were at a distance from that of the other two officers and the distance lessened the privacy issues so it was in the public's interests for disclosure.
"Openness in the conduct of the public's business is essential to a democratic society," he said, ruling that the footage from the cruiser and from the sergeant's camera and all of the audio recordings for each device would be released to the public.
Many of the regulations proposed in HB 617 are common sense. Officers can only use body cameras when in uniform, officers shall activate their cameras once they arrive to where the incident is and recordings should be specific to an incident and not "indiscriminate" records of entire shifts.
Others are a little more succinct. There are some cases where people are specifically exempt from being recorded and include communications with other police personnel except when those communications pertain to the incident at hand; encounters with undercover officers when the recording officer knows the person is operating under cover; intimate searches; interviews with crime victims unless consent is given according to the state Attorney General Guidelines; interactions with those seeking to report a crime anonymously, though the officer can ask the person for permission; on the grounds of any school unless responding to an "imminent threat to life or health;" when the officer is on break or on personal business; where any normal person has an expectation of privacy like a bathroom or locker room; or in case of a possible explosive device when a signal could possibly trigger the device.
Except in emergencies, officers will tell people they are being recorded and where people have some expectation of privacy, such as in their home, can be restricted by the person unless police have a warrant or it is a judicially recognized time when an officer can act without a warrant. If an individual opts not to be recorded, the officer shall document this.
Once the camera is activated, it shall remain activated until the event is completed. Should a failure to activate or an interruption occur, it will be documented by the officer.
Only certain people can alter and view the recordings and, if an officer is suspected of wrongdoing, his or her access may be limited. Bean Burpee said he and his two lieutenants will be the only people who can authorize the deletion or overwriting of a recording, though he told selectmen that Taser backs up recordings as part of their contract.
The recording shall be overwritten in 180 days unless the recording is of a felony-level offense, a discharge of a firearm, serious bodily injury, or if a complaint is filed with the police agency. In the event of a civil complaint, the recording will be kept if it is part of an internal investigation or a disciplinary investigation.
There is a clause in the proposed bill that exempts the use of body cameras from wiretapping laws.
Bean Burpee estimates that the body cameras will be available for use sometime this summer,1 as there is extensive training required by individual officers for their use.