Donations will allow Gilmanton Year-Round Library to reopen on Saturday (516+photo)

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILMANTON — It's been a tumultuous year for the Gilmanton Year-Round Library, which was thrown into an existential crisis earlier this winter when voters rejected two warrant articles that would have each provided funding to help cover the library's operation. Unsure of how they would cover expenses, the board of directors announced a plan to close the library on April 2 until further notice. Then, it reported that there were enough donations made to the library to allow it to reopen sometime after the closing, and on Friday night the directors announced that the funding gap had grown so small that the nonprofit facility would only be closed for a week.

In the meantime, the board will continue with a second "Community Conversation," in which it invites members of the community to discuss the library's possible long-term strategies. The discussion will be held on Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m.

Chris Schlegel, president of the board of directors, confirmed on Monday that the library would reopen on Saturday, April 9. Following the voters' narrow rejection of a one-year funding measure, and a wide defeat of a warrant article that would have provided funding for two years, the library's directors were faced with a budget hole of $47,500.

Supporters of the library rallied, though, and within a few weeks it was clear that the library would be able to operate for most, if not all, of the coming 12 months. And, on Friday, when directors met, they saw just how close they were to that fundraising goal.

"We were within $1,113 of that amount. We decided we would just be closed for this one week," said Schlegel on Monday. In addition to the week-long hiatus, the library will also refrain from purchasing new media until May. Children's programs will also be on hold until May.

While Schlegel said the library's directors were "disappointed" that voters turned down their funding requests, she said they are "extremely grateful" for the support that they have seen since then.

"The donations have been numerous, lots of donations of all amounts, nearly all of them from Gilmanton residents," she said.

The donations will allow the library to continue operating through March of 2017, and any further donations will be applied to operating expenses thereafter. By then, library directors hope to have decided on a strategy for years to come.  Among the options are staying with the nonprofit model and soliciting private donations to keep the library operating, or asking the town to take control of the library as a municipal asset.

"We really want the community input, we have several options now... There are other possibilities we want to explore, that's how we expect to spend the remainder of the year."

Schlegel said she wanted to extend "our sincere thanks to everybody who has supported us and gave generously over the past few weeks, and [we] look forward to serving the community well into the future."

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Children's Librarian Pam Jansury reads "Waiting" during morning Story Time March 30 at the Gilmanton Year Round Library. Children's programs are expected to resume in May. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Making room - Colonial project displaces 3 Canal Street businesses

04-05 Colonial businesses have to go

Frates Creative Arts Center, U Frame We Frame and the Silver Screen Salon on Canal Street in Laconia have been asked to move out by Sept. 1 to allow renovation of the Colonial Theatre building. (Michael Kitch photo/Laconia Daily Sun)

 

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Three businesses on Canal Street — Frates Creative Arts Center, U-Frame We Frame and the Silver Screen Salon — will be required to relocate by the restoration of the Colonial Theatre.
"We knew it was going to happen," said Larry Frates, who has operated artists workshop and dance studio on Canal Street for 32 years. "We want the project to work."
The three businesses occupy a triangular building attached to the auditorium that originally served as the entrance to the stage, as well as housed the manager's office, dressing rooms and storage space. The entrance, through which elephants and automobiles along with stage sets, sound equipment and other large items once passed, is essential to the operation of the theater.
The building committee, formed by the Belknap Economic Development Council , which owns the property, to assist with the restoration considered two alternatives to the original stage entrance: one from the Citizens Bank drive-up facility behind the theater on Beacon Street East and another through the Laconia Antiques Center abutting the theater on Main Street. However, the costs of acquiring, renovating and reconfiguring those properties proved prohibitive and the committee decided to restore the entrance on Canal Street
City Councilor David Bownes, who serves on the building committee, said that after meeting with the business owners representatives of the Belknap Economic Development Council agreed to provide them with assistance in moving their furnishings and inventory and relocating their operations. In addition, the council has forgiven payment of rent beginning on April 1. He said that the businesses have been asked to move by Sept. 1, but added "that date is not cast in stone."
"We've been here when there was nothing," said Frates, "and gone through the ups and downs with the redoing of Main Street and Canal Street. I think we've contributed something to keeping downtown alive." He said that he has already been contacted by a number of people with suggestions of a new location, but added that he has not begun searching in earnest. "We've always had a strong commitment to downtown," he said, "and we're not going away."
Jen Russo of the salon next door opened last August. She said that she made a significant investment from her own pocket in improving the space, including both electrical and plumbing work.
"I was hoping this would be my last stop," she said, "but I understand the situation and intend to stay positive. Russo said she had begun looking for new space downtown, but was finding others were getting to it ahead of her. "I've started looking outside of downtown."

Adopt-A-Spot seeking ‘foster parents’ to beautify public spaces in Laconia

LACONIA — Each year the Parks and Recreation Departments tends 56,000 square feet — an acre-and-a-quarter — of flower and shrubbery beds and borders scattered all across the city, some of which have been adopted by individuals, clubs and businesses while others remain in the foster care of the department.

"We want to encourage more people to take ownership of their beautiful city by participating in our Adopt-a-Spot program," said Amy Lovisek.

She said that a sign placed on each spot designates those — the person or firm — who have contributed their time, energy and resources to caring for it. At the end of the growing season, the finest spots in different categories are honored with awards.

There are almost three dozen spots open for adoption around the city, including beds in city parks, traffic islands and at municipal buildings, which can be found on the Parks and Recreation Department's website.

Spots need planting, watering, fertilizing, mulching, pruning, deadheading and weeding. Some but not all have access to water. Lovisek stressed that those adopting a spot should be prepared to garden throughout the season and, if they wish, to plant mums in the fall.

"We want the city to look beautiful," she said, "not neglected."

For more information call 524-5046 or click complete and submit the form on the department's website at http://www.city.laconia.nh.us/index.php/departments/parks-inside.

– Michael Kitch

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