Former Inter-Lakes superintendent interviews for interim Laconia job

LACONIA — Former Inter-Lakes superintendent Phil McCormack was interviewed last night by the subcommittee of the School Board tasked with finding and recommending a part-time administrator to lead the district next year.

McCormack was Inter-Lakes Regional School District's superintendent from 2001 until his retirement in 2012.

The following year, he was called from retirement by the N.H. School Boards Association to lead the Newfound Regional School District for a few months during the late Superintendent Marie Ross's illness. When she passed away, McCormack stayed for the remainder of the year.

The interview was conducted in public, however at the end of it, the three members – School Board Chair Joe Cormier and members Stacie Sirois and Scott Vachon – went into a non-public session with McCormack. Also at the interview and staying for the non-public session were Asst. Superintendent Kirk Beitler and Business Administrator Ed Emond.

The search for an interim superintendent was triggered by current Superintendent Terri Forsten's decision to leave Laconia at the end of this school year to take over the helm at Concord School District. Because Concord's final decision came late in the year, the Laconia School Board decided to hire an interim, according to Vachon, to promote initiatives already in place and calm the nerves of some employees who fear change, while it begins the process of recruiting a full-time superintendent.

Before going into the non-public session, Cormier said there were no more interviews scheduled for last night and, at that point, no more interviews scheduled for the immediate future.

The board met last week in a closed door session with Dr. Kenneth DeBenedictis of the New England School Development Council (NESDC), the firm the board chose to help it search for an interim superintendent who will serve until July 1, 2016.

DeBenedictis had brought two recommendations for the district's interim superintendent and the committee met in non-public to discuss both of them.

It is the School Board's intent to hire an interim and then immediately begin the process of hiring a permanent superintendent who they expect to name in December of 2015 and who will begin with the district in July of 2016.

The interim position will be for 32 hours a week with an hourly pay rate and no health insurance benefits.

The search committee is expected to make a recommendation to the full School Board for action after tonight's meeting.

Opechee Park Association donates $18,500 to help build picnic pavilion

LACONIA – The City Council last night took the first step toward accepting a contribution of not more than $18,500 from the Opechee Park Association on the understanding that the funds will be applied to the construction of picnic pavilion at Opechee Park.

The council unanimously adopted on first reading a resolution authorizing the city manager to accept the donation for "the sole purpose of the construction of a covered picnic pavilion at the park area known as Opechee Cove. The council will hold a public hearing on the donation during its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, June 8.

The association was formed in the 1930s to provide social and leisure activities at the park and much later organized as a nonprofit corporation. For many years the association leased the Opechee Park Clubhouse from the city, which in turn it rented to other organizations, individuals and families where they hosted regular meetings, staged various events and celebrated special occasions. The rental income from the clubhouse supported the activities of the association.

In 2012, the clubhouse, which had fallen into disrepair, was demolished. Tim Dunleavy, president of the association, said that without the clubhouse the association had neither a suitable venue nor a revenue stream and its membership waned. Earlier this year, the association chose to dissolve and offer its remaining balance to the city for construction of a picnic pavilion.

NOTE: The City Council also adopted on first reading resolutions to accept a donation from the Town of Gilford of $4,000 toward a geomorphological study of Black Brook and its watershed and a donation of $1,168 from the Bow WOW Fest for the K-9 unit o the Laconia Police Department.

City manager to negotiate sale of city lot

LACONIA — The City Council last night rejected two offers — one from Lakeport Landing and the other from Irwin Marine – for the property on Union Avenue leased for the past 30 years to Landing Landing, both of which fell shy of the appraised value of $480,000.

The property, a 0.81 acre strip between the roadway and railway was leased to Lakeport Landing in 1985 for 10 years with two 10-year renewal periods. The lease will expire on November 1, 2015 and cannot be renewed again. In 1987 Lakeport Landing constructed a 9,840-square-foot building on the lot. Under the terms of the lease, ownership of the building would revert to the city at the expiration date.

Erica Blizzard, who owns and operates Lakeport Landing, offered to purchase the property for $331,400 and subsequently Irwin Marine, which operates on the abutting lot, submitted an offer of $335,000.

Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) proposed negotiating a sale of the property to Lakeport Landing at its appraised value. She was joined only by Councilor Arman Bolduc (Ward 6). With Councilors Henery Lipman (Ward 3), David Bownes (Ward 2) and Ava Doyle (Ward 1) in the majority, Baer's motion failed by a vote of three-to-two.

Lipman proposed authorizing the City Manager Scott Myers to negotiate with both Lakeport Landing and Irwin Marine, with respect to the appraised value as well as other conditions for the sale of the property. The city will require easements to maintain the retaining wall along Union Avenue. The owner of the property would be expected to maintain its taxable value for a specified period of time. Should Lakeport Landing fail to acquire the property, the transaction would be subject to a transition period of up to two years to enable the firm to make alternative arrangements for its operations. Finally, prospective buyers would asked to consider subdividing the property and transfer approximately a third of the lot to the city for a parking lot.

Lipman said he anticipated these discussion would begin soon with an eye to structuring a sale of the property in July.