Laconia police address drug use in library bathrooms

LACONIA — Lacona police and firefighters were able to successfully assist a person who overdosed on heroin Wednesday night while in the bathroom at the Laconia Public Library.
Capt. Matt Canfield said yesterday that the police are not strangers to people misusing the bathrooms at the library and said there had very recently been an educational and training session with police and library staff.
He added that the downtown area patrol officers will be increasing the presence at the Laconia Library both in the parking lot and through "park, walk and talk" visits to the public facility during the times of day where abuse of bathrooms is most common.

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Traffic signal plan brought to Meredith

MEREDITH — The Board of Selectmen appear to prefer installing a signal between Lake Street and Dover Street to manage pedestrian crossings of US Route 3 among three options the state Department of Transportation presented at a workshop this week.

In August, after residents roundly rejected a proposal to string three roundabouts along the US Route 3/NH Route 25 corridor, the selectmen asked DOT for a proposal for coordinated signalization to improve the flow of both traffic and pedestrians. This week, the department returned with suggestions to install pedestrian signals at Dover Street, at both Dover Street and Lakes Street or between the two.

Counts taken at the US Route3/NH Route25 intersection, Dover Street and Lake Street in August indicated that pedestrian traffic was heaviest at Dover Street, where 275 people crossed during a peak hour on Sunday. Fewer than 100 pedestrians crossed at the other locations at peak times. Managing pedestrian traffic has been a recurrent theme of the discussion about easing congestion along the corridor since talks began in 2004.

All three options would include what Gene McCarthy of McFarland Johnson Inc., the project manager, called "adaptive signal control" at the US Route3/NH Route25 intersection. He said the equipment that controls the signal at the intersection would not only optimize the flow of traffic through it, but would also manage whatever system of pedestrian signals is chosen. In particular, he said the system could handle vehicles passing through the intersection along with a signal controlling pedestrians crossing US Route 3 and do so continuously in real time as the volume of traffic and number of pedestrians traffic changes.

Likewise, all three options would reduce the number of northbound lanes on US Route 3 and widen the two southbound lanes at the intersection with NH Route 25. McCarthy explained that reconfiguring the intersection would ease the left-hand turn for westbound traffic on NH Route 25, especially for trucks.

McCarthy told the selectmen that designated pedestrian crossings should not be located at intersections. Moreover, he noted that pedestrian crossings at Lake Street and Dover Street would also be in line with the entrance to and exit from the parking lot at the town dock.

Initially, the state had allocated approximately $6 million to address congestion through corridor. However, after the town soundly rejected a proposal to construct three single-lane roundabouts at Lake Street, the US Route 3/NH Route 25 intersection and Pleasant Street, the funds were assigned to other projects, leaving $1.75 million for Meredith.
The selectmen plan to place the options on the agenda of a future board meeting with an eye to holding a public hearing in the new year.

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Belknap House secures place for family shelter

LACONIA —By next winter, homeless families may be able to find shelter, as a purchase-and-sales agreement has been entered into for the sprawling white home at 200 Court St.

Belknap House President Colleen Garrity said she hopes the shelter can open on Oct. 1.

She said a  group of interested citizens and nonprofit agencies met regularly during the past few years came up with the idea of the Belknap House because over the past five years the number of homeless families has risen dramatically.

Right now, the only place for homeless families is the Carey House, which is operated by the Salvation Army. There is room in the Carey House for only three families, leaving the rest few options in the Lakes Region.

Garrity said the group has reached out to a number of local banks and other lenders in a search for grants and/or loans that would help them raise the $250,000 needed for the purchase of the house and for the necessary safety upgrades that would be needed.

She said a sprinkler system must be installed, the building needs a kitchen and the bathrooms need renovating.

Garrity added the building must be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. She said the home must have 200 square feet per person, meaning that it can house up to 19 people at one time.

There are also a number of fundraisers ongoing – the biggest one being an effort to raise $25,000 to match a gift in that amount from an anonymous donor. A handcrafted pendant designed and made by a local jeweler is being raffled off. Tickets can be bought at The Studio on Canal Street or at St. Andre Bessette Church offices.

The agency is also raising money by selling Christmas trees in the lot next to Coldwell Banker Realty on Court Street. She said the trees are fresh, and grown and harvested by a Colebrook farmer whose trees grow both in New Hampshire and Vermont.

"We are very excited and are getting a lot of community recognition," Garrity said.

CUTLINE ( Belknap House) This house has recently been placed under a purchase and sale agreement with the Belknap House - a local non-for-profit that plans on creating a winter shelter for homeless families. (Laconia Daily Sun Photo – Gail Ober)

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