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Belmont residents question bond proposal to fund $3.4-million mill renovation

BELMONT – About 20 residents came to the Corner Meeting House Tuesday night to ask questions and/or voice their views regarding the proposed $3.4-million renovation of the historic Belmont Mill.

Selectmen presented a 20-year bond payback schedule of a estimated 4 percent interest rate with the first payment coming in February 2016 of $279,740. The final payment in 2035 would be $150,000. This would add 48 cents per $1,000 of value in 2016. Total interest paid would be $1,240,490.

Interest on a 25-year bond would be 4.5 percent with the first payment coming in February 2016 of $265,676. The final payment would come in 2040 and it would be $120,175. This would add 45 cents per $1,000 valuation in 2016. The total interest charges would be $1,722,926.

Most of those who attended the hearing had questions relative to the project and the cost breakdown. One woman wanted a clearer picture of "soft costs" -- which are furnishings and costs for the estimates for things like mechanical, electrical and heating system.

Others had technical questions like what kind of heating system there is in the mill -- it's oil, but specialists are looking at a possible conversion to propane.

Others, including George and Susan Condodemetraky, said they thought the town was creating too much space for a town hall.

George Condodemetraky said he felt that the second story of the existing town hall could be renovated and that it would double the amount of work space.

"What you want in this case is the Taj Mahal," he said, adding that if the town gave him $3 million, he could engineer and build a brand new building for that kind of money. His statement prompted a different man to say that renovating the mill was like putting "lipstick on a pig."

Selectman Jon Pike said he didn't necessarily disagree with either of view, but also reminded the two men that the town has already spent $1.4 million on the mill.

"Do you want to tear it down?" he asked them. "They wanted us to save this thing."

Selectman Ruth Mooney said that they found so many things that weren't working or that hadn't been done during the first restoration that this is the only viable solution.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin told the attendees that the Belknap Family Heath Care Center has outgrown its space on the third floor of the mill. She said she met with LRGH recently and proposed they take over the former Northway Bank building.

She said LRGH seemed very interested in the building and was going to send an architect to Belmont to assess the structure.

"This is in the discussion stages," said Mooney, who added that the health care center "really wants to stay in (Belmont) village.

The health care center is on the third floor of the Belmont Mill. For the town to make the necessary repairs to flooring on the fourth floor, the center would have to relocate to give crews access.

Mooney noted that if the health care center were to relocate that would mean the facility would leave the village for good.

To the overall plan, Pike said it was the best plan they had seen. "If the town wants to save it, then this is it," he said.

Pike also said he was "appalled" by the small number of people who came to the bond hearing.

Belmont's SB 2 session is Saturday, Feb. 2, at 10 a.m. at the Belmont High School.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 January 2015 02:07

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Pace of Construction Quickens

LACONIA — During the first nine months of 2014 — from April 1 to Dec. 31 — the city issued building permits worth $24.5 million in construction value compared to $13.3 million in 2013 and $10.6 million in 2012.

The value of new construction added during the tax year, which runs from April 1 to the following March 31, is one of two factors applied to calculate the increase in the amount to be raised by property taxes according to the tax cap. The cap limits the annual increase in amount raised by property taxes to the rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index — Urban (CPIU), for the prior calendar year, plus an additional amount tied to the value of new construction, which is calculated by multiplying the value of building permits less the value of demolition permits issued between April 1 and March 31 by the prior year's property tax rate. Through November 2014 the annualized CPI was 1.7 percent.

Residential construction accounted for $20.4 million of the new value in 2014. Two projects represents more than half the total. The 24 condominium units at the North Lodge on Scenic Road, built by Southworth Development LLC accounted for $6.6 million and Rivers Edge, the apartment building on Union Avenue, built by the Laconia Area Community L:and Trust. accounted for another $5.2 million. The single largest commercial project was the conversion of the Evangelical Baptist Church to the Holy Grail restaurant at $1 million.


Last Updated on Thursday, 22 January 2015 02:02

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4 near-fatal overdoses in city over the weekend

LACONIA – There have been four non-fatal overdoses of opiates in the city since last Friday, Police Chief Chris Adams confirmed yesterday.

The Laconia Fire Department successfully used NARCAN – an inhalation-delivered version of Naloxone which almost immediately reverses the effects of opiates.

Laconia has seen an alarming number of opiate overdoses – both fatal and non-fatal, and has taken extraordinary steps to combat the problem.

In the 2014-2015 city budget, the City Council appropriated an additional $50,000 to the Police Department which appointed a drug czar whose sole job is to coordinate educational and enforcement programs with other communities, the courts, the schools, and the various agencies who are addressing drug problems.

Adams said the City Council will be evaluating the program for renewal as part of the 2015-16 budget and he said he will be asking for a full-time position for the drug coordinating officer.

One of the agencies addressing the problem head-on is StandUp Laconia – a not-for-profit program begun by some private citizens who want to help with the city's drug abuse problem. The group is meeting tonight from 5 until 6:30 p.m. at the Laconia Middle School. The meeting is open to anyone who is interested in taking a stand against alcohol and drug abuse.

In addition, there is an intensive recovery program created last year by 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division Judge Jim Carroll for admitted addicts who want to get and stay drug-free. Recovery Court in Belknap County is an all-volunteer effort by local mental health and counseling agencies, the court, the Public Defenders Office, the Laconia City Prosecutor, the Belknap County Department of Restorative Justice, the Department of Corrections and the Belknap County arm of the N.H. Division of Probation and Parole.

Last month, two people made it through the program and graduated. Both have agreed to stay with the program as mentors.


Last Updated on Thursday, 22 January 2015 01:59

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Correction: Bicycle Exchange formed in 2014, has given out 101 bikes

LACONIA — An article about the Laconia Bicycle Exchange that appeared in yesterday's edition mis-stated a couple of details about the program. The program was founded in April 2014 and has since given out more than 100 bicycles to persons in need.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 January 2015 01:54

Hits: 167

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