Parks & Rec asks to fund full-time maintance position


LACONIA — Explaining his request to add a full-time maintenance position, Kevin Dunleavy, director of recreation and facilities, told the City Council Monday that the expansion of municipal amenities has "tipped the scales for our department."

Dunleavy was referring to the Weirs Community Park, Winnipesaukee-Opechee-Winnisquam Trail, Downtown Riverwalk as well as the Gateway Plaza at the foot of Main Street and the pocket park at the junction of Pleasant Street and Main Street, all of which are tended by the department.

In addition, the department maintains 15 parks, school playing fields, nine cemeteries, five beaches, two libraries, City Hall, the police station and other public spaces around the city while offering some 100 recreational and instructional programs. Dunleavy said "We are seeing more interest in the use of our facilities and we're having difficulty keeping up with what we have to keep up."

City Manager Scott Myers included funding for the maintenance position in his recommended budget, along with $70,000 to replace the department's 1978 tractor and $35,000 to replace its 1998 dump truck.

However, Dunleavy pitched the councilors for $78,000 to reconstruct the tennis courts at Leavitt Park, $15,000 to replace the bleachers at the softball diamond at Memorial Park, $20,000 to construct a sewage disposal system at Bond Beach and and $15,000 for new elements at city playgrounds, all items Myers recommended not to fund.
Dunleavy suggested some or all of these projects could be funded from a non-capital reserve account accrued to repair, replace and reconstruct facilities, which has a current balance of $233,000, of which $60,000 has been designated for replacing windows at City Hall.

Little League game delayed by fire at concession stand


LACONIA — Rist-Frost-Shumway edged J.C. Swain 7 to 6 in a Little League baseball game on Saturday morning, which was delayed by fire when grease atop a grill in the concession stand at Colby Field burst into flame.

Firefighters from Laconia, Belmont and Gilford were dispatched to the ballpark 9:54 a.m. when a caller reported the fire. Lt. Chad Vaillancourt found neither smoke nor flame showing from the two-story building that houses the clubhouse and concession stand, but two minutes later reported the fire that had reached into the wall of the building. Vaillancourt requested help, which drew crews from Belmont and Gilford.

A crew from Gilford laid 1,200 feet of 4-inch hose from a hydrant on North Main Street and firefighters ran a line through the side door of the building and into the kitchen to attack the fire. The wall was opened and fire there extinguished. Firefighters ensured that fire had not climbed to the upper story. No one was injured in the fire.

Aaron Jones, assistant coach of the Rist-Frost-Shumway team, said that the umpires halted play in the second inning and escorted the players and coaches to the outfield as the firefighters arrived. "Everyone applauded the firefighters," Jones said. "It was really fun."

Kevin Dunleavy, director of parks and recreation, said that fortunately Saturday was the last day of the Little League season. Fire Chief Ken Erickson estimated the cost of the damage at $5,000. Dunleavy said that the building was constructed by local volunteers and is owned by the city. He added that the city's insurance carrier has been contacted and noted that Laconia Little League also provides a certificate of insurance for its exclusive use of Colby Field.

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Firefighters work to put out a grill fire at the concession stand at Colby Field. (Photo courtesy Laconia Fire Department)

Sunday fire leaves Laconia family temporarily homeless


LACONIA — A fire caused by teenaged boys smoking in the attic caused about $50,000 in damage to a home on Old North Main Street Sunday around 5 p.m.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said the boys, who were about 16 years old, had left the three-story house and later noticed some smoke coming from the attic. One of the boys ran back into the house and took a little girl who was on the first floor to safety.

The children's mother had just left for work, but returned immediately after her son called her. She stayed in her car with the young girl while firefighters extinguished the blaze.

Erickson said the there was a lot of fire in the attic but because it was unfinished, it was extinguished fairly quickly. He said most of the damage to the rest of the house, primarily on the second floor, was from the water used to put out the fire.

"Even though there was a significant amount of fire, not all of the water we use turns to steam," she said.

Erickson said there were multiple phone calls initially made to the 9-1-1, so the lieutenant in charge called immediately for a first alarm that brought crews from Gilford and Belmont to the scene.

He said when Assistant Chief Kirk Beattie arrived, he called for a second alarm when he saw the size and age of the home, but most of those departments were canceled immediately. Meredith firefighters stayed to assist.

Erickson said it took a long time to overhaul the attic and make sure the fire was completely extinguished.

He said the family was assisted Sunday night by the New Hampshire Red Cross but is insured. There were no injuries.

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Boys smoking in the attic of this home at 1420 N. Main St. accidentally caused a fire Sunday. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)