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Route 106 road work begins this week

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

BELMONT — Commuters and visitors alike will be seeing the beginning of a two-year Route 106 road construction project in the area of Seavey Road by the end of this week.

According to Chuck Flanders, who is the head of the state Department of Transportation Construction Bureau, crews will begin by cutting trees and excavating land across the street from where Seavey Road meets Route 106 on Thursday morning.

Flanders said they need to do this first because seven or eight utility poles will need replacing and "It will take quite a few weeks dedicated to that," he said.

The Seavey Road intersection project has been planned for about three years now and was initially identified as an unsafe intersection by the state and was put on the list to be rebuilt.

Flanders said the state decided to rebuild the nearly 5 miles of road between Perkins Road and the city of Laconia urban compact line, so they combined the two projects.

Flanders also said on Monday that when the project is complete there will be a left-turn lane for traffic headed north on Route 106 and a right-turn lane for traffic headed south. He said he is aware that the Belmont School District begins classes in the end of August and said the department will coordinating construction with the district and with First Student Bus Company.

He also said that the Seavey Road intersection won't be completed until the summer of 2017.

When asked what motorists could expect, Flanders said initially, there will be very little disruption around Seavey Road except for the excavation across the road for the utility poles.

The project requires the replacement of the Tioga Bridge and Flanders said there will be two lanes of traffic going each way but they will be jogged to one side or the other. On rare occasions, he said they may need to move traffic one lane at a time but said those instances will be driven by necessity and when traffic is not at peak travel.

He said he expects all of the reclaiming work on the 5-mile section of road should be completed by the end of this construction season.

The 2017 part of the project will have the bridges along the Laconia Bypass over Routes 107 and 106 replaced and the Seavey Road intersection completed.

07-19 Seavey Road intersection

Excavation will begin late this week on the banking across from Seavey Road as part of a two-year construction program along Route 106 between Belmont and Laconia. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

Sportsmen’s club negotiating to buy property from airport authority

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — After 30 years of leasing its land on Lily Pond Road, the Belknap County Sportsmen’s Association has a purchase and sales agreement with the Laconia Airport Authority, but some major steps need to take place before the club can own that land outright.
According to airport manager Marv Everson, the Gilford Planning Board must approve the subdivision, which was on its agenda for Monday night. Should the subdivision be approved, an appraiser needs to get a “Yellow Book” appraisal, or one that meets the terms set by the Federal Aviation Administration.
After that, the appraisal goes to the state Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics for review. If approved, it will be sent to the FAA for approval.
“I’ve been told that it could take as little as one month or as many as six or seven months to get an answer from the FAA,” he said, noting that all have agreed this piece of land is not needed nor will it ever be needed for airport use.
Time is of the essence because the 30-year lease between the Airport Authority and the association expires on Oct. 1. While the lease price has been $100 a year, Everson said the FAA has insisted on getting a fair-market value should a lease arrangement continue, which he has estimated to be $5,000 a year.
According to the association’s attorney, Mike Persson, it has formed the Belknap County Sportsmen’s Charitable Fund and has achieved a 501(c)(3) tax status as a nonprofit.
Originally, Persson said, the Sportsmen’s Association was at the end of the runway. Thirty years ago the FAA and the airport asked them to move so the runway could be lengthened.
“The 30-year lease at $100 a year was the cost to (the airport) for expanding the runway,” Persson said.
But now that the lease is up, Everson said the FAA not only wants fair value for a future lease but needs to know that the money is being reinvested into the airport.
Everson said the decision to sell the property to the association makes more sense for both entities.
“All the revenue we take in is reinvested in the airport,” Everson said.
Persson said he is happy that the airport authority has recognized the value of the sportsmen’s association to area residents and that so far, all of the relations and negotiations have been positive.
Association member and Gilford Selectmen’s Chairman Richard “Rags” Grenier said the Belknap County Sportsmen’s Association is the only legitimate sportsmen’s club in the area, unless one were to go to Canterbury or Holderness.
He said the club offers fishing trips for children, hunting classes, archery classes, firearms safety classes, and outdoorsmanship classes for young and old.
Grenier said firearms safety and training has become one of the fastest growing segments of the industry and having a safe club with property trained instructors in the area is a great benefit to the citizenry.

 

Page Pond Forest on Meredith Neck grows by 200 acres

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — Selectmen gave their blessing Monday to the effort of the Conservation Commission to add approximately 200 acres to the Page Pond Town Forest, which sprawls over 562 acres, including prime wetlands, on Meredith Neck.

Mark Billings, who chairs the commission, told selectmen that the commission has agreed to a letter of intent and is in the process of entering a purchase and sales agreement to acquire the property for $980,000 in a transaction which, including the cost of services and fees, is expected to close at a cost of $1,125,000.

The property consists of two tracts, one of 117.5 acres and another of 84.5 acres on the east side of Barnard Ridge Road south to its junction with Pleasant Street. It includes 2,500 feet of frontage on the west side of Page Pond and 1,500 feet of frontage along Page Brook while another 1,577 feet abuts land protected by a conservation easement. The property contains 35 acres of prime wetland as well as 3,850 feet along an important tributary to Meredith Bay.

"It is as ecologically relevant as Page," Billings said, emphasizing that safeguarding what he called "a large wetland complex" will serve to protect both water quality and wildlife habitat. He stressed that two natural inventories found that the area support " a broad diversity of wildlife with a unique depth and breadth of species."

At the same time, Billings noted that a part of the property was long a working farm, laden with rich agricultural soils, while remains of grist mill testify to historical and cultural significance of the land to the town of Meredith.

Pointing out that the sidewalk along Pleasant Street leads directly to the property, Billings said that it will provide "an urban park and town forest within walking distance of downtown." A short distance from the schools, he said that the property will also serve as "an outdoor science lab." Finally, he said a 4.5-acre parcel at the intersection of Pleasant Street and Barnard Ridge Road has been "carved out" as a site for a new library should the trustees of the library, who have voted to relocate the library, choose to avail themselves of it.

Billings said that like the acquisition of Page Pond in 2010, the purchase will be undertaken in partnership with the the Trust for Public Lands and draw upon a mix of conservation funds and grants supplemented by a private contributions and a town appropriation. He said that Land and Community Heritage Program has expressed interest in the project and the conservation commission intends to approach the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and Natural Resource Conservation Service, a federal program, both of which distribute funding for protecting natural resources and water quality.

Billings anticipated that financing for the project could be arranged before Town Meeting in March. "I'm optimistic," he said. "My experience of this town allows me to be optimistic."

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