Peter Karagianis Day proclaimed as walkway is designated in 'Mr. Laconia's' honor


Karagianis 23Jun16263021 DS

Mayor Ed Engler speaks to the Karagianis family and others gathered at the Belknap Mill for the dedication ceremony of Peter S. Karagianis Way on Thursday morning.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)



LACONIA — Long a monument to the city's rich industrial legacy, the Belknap Mill yesterday became a lasting memorial to the man in the vanguard of the effort to spare it from the wrecking ball and breathe fresh life into its brick walls.

Several dozen gathered in Mill Plaza, where a sign designating the walkway leading past the mill to the footbridge crossing the Winnipesaukee River as Peter Karagianis Way was unveiled to honor the man whose tireless efforts, limitless vision and boundless generosity left the city what Allison Ambrose, president of the Belknap Mill Society, said "is his legacy and it is ours."

"He would want us to follow his footsteps and walk this path," said his son Peter Karagianis Jr., who led the way by announcing that the Karagianis family was making two donations to the Belknap Mill Society. The first, $10,000 to expand the history and arts programs, particularly the Fourth Grade Program originated by his father, and the second, $25,000, which he challenged to community to match, toward replacing the roof.

To build a community, Karagianis said that his father believed "it is not enough to just give, but to act and act he did. And his work continues."

Rod Dyer, who served as mayor when demolition cast its shadow over the mill, recalled that the struggle to save it raged for four years, during which he dealt with Karagianis constantly. "He would be somewhat surprised to know I am speaking here," he remarked to a peal of laughter. Then he read a tribute to Karagianis written in 1994 by architect Paul Mirski, who noted that he not only saved the mill from being replaced with 14 parking spaces but also played a part in the Lakes Region Clean Water Association, which contributed to ridding the lakes and rivers in the city of pollution. Karagianis, Mirski wrote was "someone to ride the river with."

The president of the Laconia Kiwanis Club, John Walker, noted that for Karagianis, whose membership stretched over nearly seven decades, the club was "almost like a religion." In particular, he took a keen interest in the Key Club at Laconia High School, inspiring youth to share his commitment and enthusiasm for community service. Walked presented the Belknap Mill Society with the bronze plaque to official signal marking the place the building has held on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971.

The first person he met on coming to Laconia, said Mayor Ed Engler, was Karagianis at the Soda Shoppe. He described him as "one of the giants of 20th century Laconia," who sensed "a responsibility to more than family, faith and business, to his community. "Mr. Laconia," he remarked, "is an example for others to follow."

Both the mayor and Gov. Maggie Hassan proclaimed June 23 "Peter S. Karagianis Day," knowing full well that his legacy and example will endure for years afterward.

Karagianis 23Jun16263044 DS


Peter S. Karagianis Way at the Belknap Mill in Laconia. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)


Belmont recreation trail to be finished at end of July


BELMONT — With the substantial completion date set for July 27, the Belmont Recreation Trail has reached the point where Land Use Technician Rick Ball is almost ready to breathe a sigh of relief.

Fifteen years in the making, this segment of the trail system that runs from the Laconia city line will be 1.6 miles long, 8 feet wide with a 1-foot shoulder on each side, paved, and planted with grass and wildflowers.

And with the Laconia segment from the Belmont town line to the train station set to break ground on July 5, the goal of a 9-mile trail running from Franklin to Meredith is one step closer.

"This will be a nice ride for the Beetles," said WOW Trail Committee Chairman Allan Beetle, who said it is one mile to pedal to Lakeport from his home, 4.5 contiguous miles from Lakeport to Belmont Agway along the trail and the return trip to his home.

Last week, the Belmont Recreational Alternative Trail Team met at the Corner Meeting House and began talking about Phase II, which would connect Belmont at the Winnisquam Bridge to downtown Tilton.

Ball told them there is another pocket of federal money allocated to the state for transportation alternatives trails to be spent over the next five years but said he expects it to be very competitive. He said Belmont's proposed Phase II is in the middle of the Franklin to Meredith and with some planning and engineering, a case could be made for Belmont role for a contiguous trail.

Committee member Donna Hepp said the goal now is to expand the committee membership to get people excited about Phase II. At that meeting, newcomer Dennis Grimes said he would join the board.

Key dates on the upcoming calendar include trail cleanup on Tuesday, June 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. Participants are encouraged to bring latex gloves and, for those who have them, safety vests for the clean up along Route 3. Board members will bring bags.

BRATT is also planning Show Me Days for July 9 and 10, when members will accompany attendees on hikes and explain the processes that went into making the trail.

A volunteer survey is now available on for people to say what interests them. Hepp said people can fill the survey out online, or print it, fill it out and drop it off at the Land Use Department in Town Hall or at the Recreation Department.

06-23 BRATT

Belmont Land Use Technician Rick Ball (in orange) and Laconia WOW Trail Chairman Allan Beetle walk around a dump truck while viewing the almost completed Belmont Phase I of the recreational trail. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

Residents of Sagamore Road in Gilford want road repairs


GILFORD — It was the road not taken.

And Wednesday night residents from the upper portion of Sagamore Road piled into town hall to complain that their road is not being considered for reconstruction in this summer's construction season.

Led by resident Howard Epstein, the attendees told selectmen that their road was unsafe and down to one paved lane for traffic in one place. He said one resident was nearly run off the road by a emergency vehicle because there was only one paved lane for both of them.

Others said the road should be a priority for safety reasons because it's windy and hilly with very little line of sight in places.

Epstein produced documentation that, as of June 26, 2015, Sagamore Road was scheduled for the 2016-17 season. He also said that every time it rains, a little more of upper Sagamore Road slides down the mountain.

Public Works Director Peter Nourse told the board he would not support changing the long-range five year plan, which has upper Sagamore scheduled to be reconstructed in 2018. After an hour-long unscheduled public hearing, selectmen agreed with him.

Nourse told the board that at the end of the 2015 season, the town was out of money and it paved only the lower portion of Sagamore.

As for upper Sagamore, he said "It is passable for two vehicles but not two vehicles on pavement." He added that some other roads in town that are a higher priority have no pavement left in certain places.

He said he and the Gunstock Acres Water District have been coordinating road construction with pipe construction and, to the best of his knowledge, upper Sagamore Road had relatively few water leaks as compared to other roads in Gunstock acres.

He said decent material must be used to build up upper Sagamore Road and that it will be a significant project planned for 2018. He mentioned the possibility of a shim and overlay but said he's not sure it would last for a significant enough amount of time to justify it.

When questioned, Nourse and selectmen said the process they used to determine which poor roads in a town with lots of poor roads get fixed first is based on multiple variables including traffic, the number of residents that live on it, the town's need to spread the wealth to all sections and whether or not it is a connector road.

When asked by selectmen what road they would sacrifice if it were up to them, most of those who answered said Foxglove Road but at least one said Old Lake Shore Road.

Selectmen asked Nourse to continue on the ongoing road projects like Mountain Road, one-half of Edgewater Drive and Saltmarsh Pond Road and report back to them on if he can project any surplus. At that point the board said it would consider the request.

Board members also told the Sagamore Road residents that potholes and washouts will still be repaired from the maintenance budget.

06-24 Gilford selectmen crowd

Gilford selectmen were confronted by a crowd of people concerned about paving plans for Sagamore Road on Wednesday evening. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)