Councilor Bolduc remains determined to have city ban parking on 'sublawn' space between sidewalk and street

LACONIA — "It's been on the agenda for five years or more," said City Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) of his request that the council take steps to prohibit motorists from parking on sublawns, the grassed strips between the roadway and sidewalk.

For years the issue has languished on the Public Works Committee agenda, which Bolduc chairs. "It's stayed there, and stayed there and stayed there," Bolduc remarked. He added that the committee's agenda has also long included his requests that it consider an ordinance regulating the parking of "large vehicles" on city streets and sidewalks and prohibiting vehicles weighing nine tons or more from idling on city streets between midnight and 6 a.m.

The issue of parking on sublawns arose when the City Council met this week. Charlie St. Clair, who lives on Messer Street, complained that parked cars ruined the grass in front of his home. Councilors returned to the issue, along with the others on the agenda of the Public Works Committee as the meeting neared its close.

The council concluded that all three issues were outside the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Works and, with Bolduc dissenting, and struck them from the agenda of the Public Works Committee and referred them to the Government Operations and Ordinances Committee, chaired by Councilor Ava Doyle (Ward 1) and including councilors Bolduc and David Bownes (Ward 2).

"I hope we'll take the bull by the horns and deal with it," Bolduc said. He said that the city has gone to expense to curb streets, build sidewalks and seed sublawns, yet "people are jumping the curbs and parking half on the grass and half on the sidewalks. Within a week the grass is gone and the sublawn has turned to mud."

Police Chief Chris Adams said that while there is a state law (RSA 265:69) prohibiting parking on sidewalks, which the police enforce, there is neither a state statute nor a city ordinance that explicitly forbids parking on sublawns.

However, there is a state statute (RSA 265:71) that specifies that where there are curbs, vehicles "shall" be stopped or parked with the right-hand wheels parallel to the right-hand curb and "where there are no curbs said vehicle shall be so stopped or parked with (its) right-hand wheels parallel to the right-hand side of the traveled portion of the way."

The City Council could enact an ordinance dealing specifically with sublawns. RSA 265:70 prescribes that state parking regulations "shall not supersede the provisions of any local ordinance which has been adopted to regulate parking in restricted areas in the compact part of any city or town."

City Manager Scott Myers expressed reservations about enacting and enforcing an ordinance. He said that where there is a defined curb, sublawn and sidewalk, police are expected to ticket motorists who have jumped the curb and parked on the sublawn. But, he said that there are many streets without a defined curb, where the boundaries between the roadway, sublawn and sidewalk are obscure. Enforcement in these circumstances, Myers acknowledged, is not a high priority for the police.

Furthermore, Myers explained that a significant share of the city's population live in multi-famility dwellings, many without sufficient off-street parking for all tenants. Tighter restrictions, especially on narrow streets without defined curbing, he suggested would add to the scarcity of parking in some neighborhoods.

At the same time, Myers emphasized that as streets are improved with defined granite curbing the prohibition against climbing the curb will be enforced. He noted that the city has applied for a grant from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to improve pedestrian access to schools. About 1,000 feet of sidewalk along Opechee Street would be improved at a cost of $50,000 to provide a safe passage between Messer Street and Laconia Middle School. The sidewalks along 600 feet of Stevens Street and 1,200 feet of Winter Street leading to Woodland Heights School would be improved with curbing and sublawns and a speed table to slow traffic would be installed near the school.

The Government Operations and Ordinances Committee has not yet scheduled a meeting to address the issue of parking on sublawns.

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Emergency shelter at middle school closes after 24-hour run

LACONIA — After being staffed for 24 straight hours by the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the emergency shelter at the Laconia Middle School closed yesterday afternoon as people's electricity was gradually restored.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said three people spent Thanksgiving night in the shelter because their homes were without power as a result of the heavy, wet snow that fell during a memorable Thanksgiving eve storm.

CERT is a collaborative effort between the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health and the Laconia Fire Department.

Had the CERT volunteers not been available to staff the emergency shelter over the holiday, the Fire Department would have had to bring in paid staff, said Susan Lavarack of the LRPPH.

As of 3 p.m. Erickson said the three people who were staying at the shelter had either gotten the power back at their homes or had found alternative housing. He said the shelter would be re-opening if the need arises.

Erickson also said that four of the city's streets remained blocked with fallen tree limbs.

As of yesterday morning, Belmont Police Lt. Rich Mann said there were still a number of people without power however the number was dropping. He said all of the roads in town with the exception of Dearborn Street were open.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, Public Service of New Hampshire's website was still reporting that 7 percent of its 11,000 plus Laconia customers were without power, that 26 percent of Belmont customers were without power and 17 percent of Gilford customers were still without electricity.

CERT volunteers said yesterday that they have cots for 50 people and about half of them are handicap accessible meaning the cots are higher off the ground for easier access.

Lavarak said when people know there is storm coming they should pack a "to go" bag that included a change of clothes, prescription medications, a towel, and some toiletries. She said people who need to be sheltered should also bring bedding.

When active, the Laconia shelter is pet friendly but volunteers asked that, if possible, animals should be kenneled and that owners should bring food for them.

For people who want to support CERT, Lavarak suggested donating gift cards from local supermarkets so the team doesn't need to worry about food expiration dates or storage.

For more about becoming a CERT-trained volunteer, people should contact Laverack at the Partnership for Public Health or the Laconia Fire Department.

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Heavy, wet snow alter's Thanksgiving Day cooking plans for many

LACONIA — At the height of the Thanksgiving Eve storm, nearly 30 percent of the homes of the 11,600 Public Service of New Hampshire customers in the city were without power, said City Manager Scott Myers.

As of 6:30 p.m. the outage numbers had dropped to 1,400 residents many of whom live in the north end of the city.

In Gilford, Public Service of New Hampshire noted that as of 6:30 p.m. last night 1,300 of their 5,600 customers remained without power. Fire Captain Rick Andrews said the outages were scattered around town but it appears the areas around Old Lake Shore Road, Henderson Road and Intervale Road were heavily impacted.

At 6:50 p.m. last night nearly one third of Belmont residents remained without power. Fire Lt Ryan Brown said Belmont emergency services were kept busy assisting utilities workers.

As of 7 p.m. yesterday, Gilford, Belmont and Laconia Police were reporting that nearly all of the roads and streets are open.

Almost all of of the power outages were caused by the estimated 14 to 16 inches of heavy, wet snow that overburdened tree branches. When the branches snapped, many power lines came down as well.

Anticipating that some people could be without power for a few days, the New Hampshire Department of Homeland Security authorized the opening of a number of emergency shelters, including one for the Lakes Region at the Laconia Middle School that is staffed by the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) led by Fire Chief Ken Erickson.

Temperatures are expected to remain cold through today — single digits tonight — with a possible warmup for the weekend.

PSNH said at the height of the storm, nearly one-third or 4,000 of its Laconia customers were without power with the majority of them losing power at 10 p.m. Wednesday through yesterday morning. At 7:30 a.m. Thursday, 30-percent of the city's residents were still without power.

Laconia Fire Capt. Chad Vaillancourt said extra personnel were brought in overnight to assist with power crews in removing trees branches. He also noted that the main Laconia Fire Station was without power and was operating with emergency generators until the power came back on yesterday morning.

Vaillancourt said that fortunately most people heeded the early warnings and stayed home for the evening. He said the Fire Department didn't responded to any motor vehicle accidents.

Both Gilford and Lacona report responding to one call each for carbon monoxide alarms but neither was a serious incident.

City police responded to a number of motor vehicle assists throughout Wednesday night and Thanksgiving Day and at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday noted that there were a number of cars that had skidded off Parade Road causing them to issue a Twitter alert asking people to avoid the area if possible.

For people who remain without power and need transportation to get to the Middle School shelter, please call your local fire or police department and they will make the necessary arrangements.

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Putnam Fund presents 'Blues Friday' concert tonight

LACONIA — The Laconia Putnam Fund will present its 3rd Annual Blues Friday at the Laconia High School Auditorium tonight at 7 p.m. Johnny A., Boston Music Award's Blues Artist of the Year, will be performing along with James Montgomery, who has toured with many major artists, including Aerosmith, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, the Allman Brothers and Steve Miller.
Admission to the concert is free with first come, first seated.
For the better part of three decades, the Massachusetts-based guitarist and bandleader Johnny A. has proven himself capable of generating heat at venues from working-class bars to international amphitheaters — and every sort of venue in between. And when the house lights are turned up, he's just as adept at captivating serious students of the six-string with a virtuosity that earned him the rare honor of having his name placed on a signature Gibson guitar.
"I want to create instrumental music and deliver it like a vocalist," he says "You can be a great player, on any instrument, and people will take notice for a while ... but what people really remember is someone who brings them a great melody."
When blues legend James Montgomery plays the harmonica, he "brings it on home". Whether it's recording with Kid Rock, sitting in with Gregg Allman, or fronting his hot band of 30 years, Montgomery plays with authority. While growing up in Detroit he learned first-hand from the masters — James Cotton, John Lee Hooker, and Jr. Wells — at the legendary "Chessmate". Over the years, he's carried on in the tradition and continues to be a vital presence in blues as one of the most dynamic performers on the scene.
In 1970, while attending Boston University, Montgomery formed the James Montgomery Band. His inimitable (oh yeah, he majored in English) harmonica playing combined with his incredibly energetic live shows led to the band's quick ascension on the New England music scene. Within two years, the James Montgomery band was among the hottest acts in Boston, along with J. Geils and Aerosmith, and they were quickly signed to a multi-album deal with Capricorn Records.
Since that time, James has recorded six albums. His first, "First Time Out" has been remastered and re-released by MRG/Capricorn. Other include "James Montgomery Band" on Island Records which was number nine on Billboard's national playlist, "Duck Fever" with members of the David Letterman Band, "Live Trax," with the Uptown Horns (the Rolling Stones' horn section), and his release on Tone-Cool, "The Oven Is On."
The audiences have all been pleased. The highlight in the US, a packed house at Chicago's House of Blues attended by Johnny's old buddy Pinetop Perkins. Look for James and Johnny to go to the House of Blues in LA in January as part of a West Coast tour, and to Istanbul, Turkey in the summer as part of a European tour that ends in Norway.

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