Mayor Engler announces recipients of Aavid donations

LACONIA —$20,000, generously donated by Aavid Thermalloy, LLC and its chief executive officer Alan Wong to mark the firm's beginning in Laconia 50 years ago and return to the city last year will be shared evenly among four community organizations.

When the City Council met this week Mayor Ed Engler explained that he was entrusted to distribute the funds and spoke with several members of the community before making his choices. He said that the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region, Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center, Belknap Mill Society and the Immigrant Integration Initiative fostered by the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Heath will each receive $5,000.

Engler said that Aavid, as an advanced manufacturer with its roots in the city, had an affinity with the Belknap Mill, which stands as a lasting monument to the city's industrial heritage, Likewise, Engler said Aavid, whose local employees include a number of foreign born engineers, seemed like an appropriate donor to a new organization whose primary goal is to ensure the community welcomes new Americans.

The Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center, which provides a safe haven for victims of child abuse, where justice, healing, equity and prevention are fostered, and the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region, with its educational and recreational programs geared to nurturing productive, responsible citizens, are essential to the growth and welfare of young people in the Lakes Region.

Court hearing on Burchell suit postponed to Friday

LACONIA — A hearing on a motion filed by County Commissioner Richard Burchell seeking to block his ouster as chairman of the commission by his fellow commissioners, which was scheduled to be heard yesterday in Belknap County Superior Court, has been postponed until Friday at 1:30 p.m.
The move was made necessary by a scheduling conflict which would not allow Presiding Justice James O'Neill III to hear the case yesterday, according to attorney Paul Fitzgerald, who is representing Commissioner Dave DeVoy in he proceedings.
Judge O'Neill will be asked to view a video of the March 2 Belknap County Commissioner's meeting at which DeVoy and Commissioner Hunter Taylor voted to reorganize the commission and at which Burchell presided and attempted to block any motions made by the other commissioners by repeatedly rapping the gavel and exclaiming that they were "out of order".
Burchell later on March 2 filed a motion in Belknap County Superior Court seeking ex parte relief from the action of the other two commissioners, claiming that there is no statutory basis for his removal as chairman, which he maintains will be ''an invitation to chaos". He had unsuccessfully sought an injunction before the meeting to prevent the other commissioners from taking any action.
Burchell is represented by attorney David Horan, the same lawyer who represented the Belknap County Convention last year in its successful law suit against the former Belknap County Commissioners over line item budget authority.
Commissioner Taylor, who is himself a lawyer, is representing himself in the proceedings. He has already filed a reply to Burchell's suit and submitted a CD of the Lakes Region Public Access Television's footage of the meeting to the court.
DeVoy's filing with the court objects to the filing of the ex parte motion and moves to dismiss Burchell's request for an injunction, maintaining that New Hampshire RSA 28:1 indicates that all powers of the commission can be exercised by a majority vote.
It also maintains that without the right to remove the chairman opens up the commission to becoming dysfunctional if a chairperson is unwilling to allow the appropriate methodical discussion and disposition of agenda items or to attempt to stifle discussion through the use of repeated and erroneous parliamentary rulings.

Council wants more legal advice on Lakeport Landing property

LACONIA — While the City Council this week once again deferred its decision on the future of the lot on Union Avenue owned by the city and leased to Lakeport Landing marina, a majority of councilors appeared to welcome a fresh proposal that would enable the marina to continue using the property.

The property, a 0.81 acre strip between the roadway and railway was leased to Lakeport Landing in 1985 for 10 years with two 10-year renewal periods. The lease will expire on November 1, 2015 and cannot be renewed again. In 1987 Lakeport Landing constructed a 9,840-square-foot building on the lot. Under the terms of the lease, ownership of the building, which, with the land, is assessed for $389,600, would revert to the city at the expiration date.

Anticipating the expiration of the lease, Erica Blizzard, the owner of Lakeport Landing, approached the council last year seeking to secure ownership or retain use of the property. Attorney Rod Dyer, representing Blizzard, suggested ways the council could negotiate the sale of the lot to Lakeport Landing and last month Blizzard submitted an unsolicited offer to purchase the property for $331,400. However, the council has been advised by its attorney that it cannot negotiate exclusively with Blizzard, but should it chose to sell the property must do so through an open, competitive process.

This week Dyer proposed that the council simply extend the current lease. "I disagree that the lease cannot be extended," he told the councilors, recalling that he had extended many leases for many clients during his legal career. "There is no reason willing partners cannot amend and extend an existing lease," he insisted."There is nothing to prevent the city from extending the current lease," he repeated.

Dyer reminded the councilors of the importance of the lot to Lakeport Landing and of the investment the marina has made in the property as well as the drawbridge and railroad signals located where the railroad tracks cross the foot of Paugus Bay. "Fairness comes into play," he remarked.

Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3) asked Dyer why he had not made this proposal at the outset. Dyer replied that he had suggested a negotiated sale, but the council was advised that any sale must be opened to all interested parties. Irwin Marine, whose property on Union Avenue abuts the lot, has expressed interest and, apparently, so has nearby Paugus Bay Marina.

Bruce Wright of Irwin Marine questioned Dyer's proposal, noting that the city and the marina were not two private parties negotiating the disposition of private property. Because the lot is public property, he said that the city "is in a different arena and subject to a different standard." Wright urged the council to dispose of the property by "a fair and open process," stressing that "it's the right and proper thing to do." Then alluding to the lease granted to Paul Blizzard, Erica's father, he added "that's not what originally took place 30 years ago."

The council voted unanimously to direct City Manger Scott Myers to seek an opinion from city attorney Walter Mitchell about extending the current lease  or creating a new one and, at the same time, to obtain an independent appraisal of the property on which the terms of a sale or lease could be based.

Earlier, at a workshop before the meeting, there was little support among councilors for subdividing the property into two lots, one to the north with the building and 24 parking spaces for sale or lease and another to the south with parking for between 12 and 14 vehicles, which would be retained by the city.

Mayor Ed Engler asked if the council wanted to consider the the future of the adjacent Lakeport Fire Station lot. Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) . described the station as a "unique buidling and valuable property" and said that Lakeport residents are bent on preserving it. While the building could be leased and put to another use, he said that the city should not sell or demolish it.

Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5) said that the council should address the two issues — the Union Avenue lot and the Lakeport Fire Station — separately.