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Money is main obstacle as solution to Meredith traffic woes nears consensus

MEREDITH — Improvements Routes 3 and 25, including the junction of the two, to ease the flow of traffic through the center of town could get underway by 2017, according to a schedule presented by officials of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) to the Board of Selectmen at a workshop yesterday.

The so-called US3/NH25 project began in 2005 with the aim of moving traffic in "a slow, steady, safe efficient manner," mitigating congestion, while configuring the corridor to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists and promoting the local economy, preserving the natural environment and highlighting the cultural assets of the community. Initially the scope of the project reached some four miles from the junction of Route 3 and Rte. 104 through the intersection Rte. 3 and Rte. 25 and along Rte. 25 to the Center Harbor town line.

Between 2006 and 2009, personnel from DOT, together with an advisory committee of local officials and residents, held 26 meetings and solicited public comment, exploring what Gene McCarthy of McFarland Johnson, a consulting engineer, called "anything and everything that could possibly be considered." In a report, issued in 2009, the myriad of alternatives were winnowed down to a number of preferred options.

Since then, McCarthy explained, for want of sufficient funding the scope of the project has been reduced to the stretch between the junction of Rte. 3 and Rte. 104 to the intersection of Rte. 25 and Pleasant Street, with the US3/NH25 intersection the centerpiece of the project.

"It's a smaller, confined project," he said. The next step will be to select the preferred alternative.

Don Lyford of DOT told the board that the current budget for the project is $5 million, with federal funds representing 80 percent of the total. He said that "the finite amount of funding" would shape the scale of the project.

The report presented four options corresponding to the reduced scope of the project. Three would add a center left-turn to Rte. 3. One would upgrade the traffic signal at Routes 3 and 104 and construct two-lane roundabouts at Routes 3 and 25 and Rte. 25 and Pleasant Street while another would construct single-lane roundabouts at both locations. A third option would include a two-lane roundabout at Routes 3 and 104 as well as at Routes 3 and 24 and Rte. 25 and Pleasant Street. With the fourth option, Rte. 3 would remain a two-lane highway with seven roundabouts — at Rte. 104, Terrace Avenue, Mill Street, Church Landing, Lake Street, Rte. 25 and Pleasant Street.

McCarthy said that while a one-lane roundabout at Routes 3 and 25 could be constructed with minimal impact on surrounding property, a two-lane roundabout would impact all four quadrants, including two buildings on the northern corners of the intersection, but provide greater capacity to ease the bottleneck.

"One lane roundabout doesn't accomplish anything," said selectman Lou Kahn, who questioned if there was enough money in the budget to acquire the necessary land. McCarthy said that apart from reconfiguring the intersection of Routes 3 and 25, the project required little land acquisition. In particular, he said that a third lane could be added to Rte. 3 within the state-owned corridor with only minimal takings.

At the recommendation of the DOT, the Selectboard agreed to convene an advisory committee of nine consisting of the town manager, community development director, a member of the Planning Board, one selectman, representatives of the Greater Meredith Program and Chamber of Commerce and three residents to work with DOT on selecting a final plan by 2014. DOT anticipates the design to be completed by 2016 and construction to begin the following year. Originally the more expansive project was scheduled to begin in 2012.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 02:53

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Man accused of burglarizing Gilmanton home on same day he was in court to answer to another charge

GILMANTON — A local man who had appeared in circuit court earlier in the day has been charged with breaking into the home of one of his relative's neighbors.

According to Gilmanton Police affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, John "Jack" P. Geddis, 23, now of Pine Hill Road in Gilmanton but formerly of Mountain View Terrace in Belmont entered the Foss Road home on November 7 through a sliding glass window.

Records show Geddis had appeared in circuit court in Laconia earlier that same day and had pleaded innocent to drug possession — a charged that stemmed from an arrest on September 18 by the Belmont Police. He had been freed on $1,000 personal recognizance bail.

"I think he still had his court clothes on," said Gilmanton Police Chief Joe Collins, referring to the November 7 burglary.

Affidavits said police were notified by Geddis's uncle who lives next door to the victim's home and who said he saw his nephew go into the house. He said he tried to approach Geddis but said he fled into the woods.

Collins's court affidavit said he interviewed the homeowner and learned some money (about $80) was missing from one of her bedrooms. She also told him Geddis didn't have permission to be in her house.

After his appearance in circuit court on November 12 for the most recent burglary, Judge Jim Carroll ordered him held on $10,000 cash-only bail. As of last night, Geddis is still incarcerated in the Belknap County House of Corrections.

The Daily Sun has learned that Geddis also allegedly broke into his uncle's Foss road home on September 14 and stole money.

He was indicted by a Belknap County grand jury last week for one count each of burglary and theft by unauthorized taking for the September 14 allegation. The indictment said the amount stolen was greater than $1,500.

Geddis is scheduled for arraignment in the Belknap County Superior Court on Thursday.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 01:49

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3 Winnipesaukee coves closed to rafting

MEREDITH — The New Hampshire Department of Safety (DOS) has prohibited "rafting" at Round, Fish and Flag coves on Lake Winnipesaukee in response to a petition presented by neighboring property owners.

In 1983 the Legislature authorized the DOS to define and regulate rafting and since 1947 property owners have been entitled to petition the department to impose operating restrictions on water bodies within or bordering municipalities. The practice of "rafting-up" involves getting two or more craft, often many, to anchor very close together for the purpose of socializing.

Cheri Pierce, whose family has owned property on Flag Cove since 1945, submitted a petition in August and the DOS held a public hearing in September, at which eight residents spoke in favor and none against forbidding rafting in the three coves. Moreover, another 13 residents submitted letters supporting the petition.

The petitioners claimed that rafting posed a safety hazard in and around the narrow, shallow inlets where the most of the water is less than six feet deep and nowhere exceeds 12 feet in depth while much of the navigable area in between 150 feet and 200 feet wide. Moreover, the shallow, warm waters and fertile sediment provide ideal conditions for milfoil, the growth and spread of which is fostered by the repeated dropping and hauling of anchors of rafting boats. The coves also provide nesting sites for loons as well as habitat for other species of wildlife. Finally. residents complained that rafting is often presents a nuisance, primarily the disposal of trash in the lake.

Unless the decision of the DOS is appealed within 30 days, the agency will draft rules to implement the ban.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 01:37

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2nd company advises Belmont Fire's engine 2 is not worth refurbishing

BELMONT — Fire Chief Dave Parenti said yesterday that he has gotten a second opinion regarding the condition of Engine 2 and has recommended to the town administrator that it not be refurbished.

Gary Wadland, a shop foreman for McDevitt Truck in Manchester, said, "I do not believe in my professional opinion it would be in your best interest to invest in refurbishing this unit."

McDevitt's opinion is similar to the one Parenti received on November 4 from Repair Service of New England (RSNE) that evaluated the engine, air system, brake system and radiator.

"Professionally speaking, I would not recommend putting the time nor the money into this unit not knowing what other issues may arise," wrote RSNE owner Ricky Gagnon.

Parenti has discussed adding a warrant article to the 2014 warrant for a $200,000 refurbishment of the engine but had told selectmen he wanted to have the truck evaluated — especially for rusted frame rails.

The RSNE report was presented to selectmen two weeks ago, however no mention was made of the condition of the frame and Selectman Jon Pike asked for a second opinion.

Along with the same problems identified by RSNE with the engine, radiator, air system and brakes, McDevitt said the "major decline is the frame rail and body rust, of what we can see and can't see."

He went on to say that "there is no repair for frame rails having rust between them, only the replacement of the rails."

Parenti said yesterday that Engine 2 is the third engine to respond to a fire. It is a 1997 Pierce ES460. He said that if the department were to refurbish it, he would expect to use it for 10 more years — five as a second line truck and five as a third line truck.

Should the selectmen choose not to refurbish it, he would placing it on the town warrant for 2015 and having it in service by early 2016.

There are three engines in Belmont, said Parenti. Engine 1 is the first response vehicle and is two years old. He said it is scheduled for replacement in 2031. Engine 3 is the second truck to respond and is scheduled for replacement in 2020.

Parenti said Engine 1 is the primary attack engine while Engine 3 is primary used during a fire as a water source. Currently, Engine 2 works as a replacement for either of those two engines when they are out of service for repairs or for simultaneous calls.

Selectmen were scheduled to review the two recommendations at their meeting yesterday.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 01:30

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