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Gilford hiring supervisor to clarify police station project's relationship to Gunstock Brook flood plain

GILFORD — Town officials have had to hire a surveyor in order to submit evidence that will show federal officials that the renovation and addition project for the town police station lies outside the 500-year flood plain established for Gunstock Brook.
The $1.213 million project would be funded in part by a $169,000 grant from the federal Department of Homeland Security and officials from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) have questioned whether or not the project falls within the 500-year flood plain.
Town Administrator Scott Dunn in his administrator's report at Wednesday night's selectmen's meeting said that the issue was discussed last week in a conference call which involved about five Gilford officials as well as a nearly equal number of officials from both FEMA and the State of New Hampshire.
''It's like trying to prove a situation which seems illogical,'' said Dunn, who said that he was hoping that the situation, which he referred to as a ''snag'', can soon be resolved.
Dunn said that the surveyor's report would be submitted within two weeks to federal officials.
He said that the project can not go out to bid until the FEMA grant has been approved by the Governor and Executive Council.
The proposed addition will include an emergency operations center which will be funded with a Department of Homeland Security grant. The addition will include a separate entryway into the police station. Currently the Police Department shares an entryway with other Gilford town offices into the Gilford Town Hall.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 April 2014 01:35

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Sanbornton hopes to get state to pay for most the cost reconstructing troublesome Lower Bay Road

SANBORNTON — Selectman Karen Ober said the town has applied for a Department of Transportation grant to assist with repairing and repaving the state-owned portion of Lower Bay Road.

The state portion runs from Hunkins Pond Road to Upper Smith Road.

"It's very close to the lake so there will be some very strict Department of Environmental Services regulations," she said.

She said the town has applied for a 80-20 split for financing, meaning 80 percent of the costs will be paid for by the state and 20 percent will be paid for by the town if the contract is accepted by the Governor's Council.

The so-called "Y" reconstruction project, or the project for Hunkins Pond Road and Upper Bay Road was a 2/3 – 1/3 split between the town and the state.

The caveat is once the road is complete, the town takes control of it from the state in an arrangement similar to the one used for the "Y" project.

Ober said she thinks the engineering will begin in fiscal year 2016 with construction scheduled for next year.

She added that with Lake Winnisquam so close to the road and the general slope of the land running down toward the lake, the engineering needed will be significant.

For now, Ober agrees the beginning portion of the road is not in the best shape but said it's really not much worse than many other roads in Sanbornton and surrounding communities.

She said the highway department is cold patching roads as is needed and roads are posted as to weight limits throughout town.

On a positive note, she said so far it appears the dirt roads in town are thawing more slowly than they did in the past few years, meaning the highway department is less likely to be overwhelmed all at one time like they have been in the past few years.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 April 2014 01:32

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Council committee gives first green light to expansion/renovation of Central Fire Station

LACONIA — The Land and Buildings Committee last night unanimously agreed to recommend the City Council appropriate $67,400 to fund a contract with Warrenstreet Architects, Inc. of Concord to prepare a schematic design and cost estimate of the expansion and renovation of the Central Fire Station.

The meeting was convened after Fire Chief Ken Erickson and Deputy Chief Charlie Roffo presented a conceptual plan for the project to the council in February, which differed from the original proposal presented in 2008. Councilors Henry Lipman (Ward 3) and Bob Hamel (Ward (3) were surprised to discover the plan had changed and requested an explanation.

Roffo reminded the committee that the department began planning in 2006 and, after working with several architectural firms and different designs, settled on a conceptual plan in 2008. However, he said that as time passed "we became concerned at the cost, which was approaching $5 million." In particular, he said that too much was being spent on the apparatus bay and converting the mezzanine and third floor to administrative space. "We asked can we get the programs we want incorporated into the design and hold down the cost of the project," he said.

The revised plan presented to the council in February and the committee last night includes the renovation of 13,135-square-feet of the existing station to serve as an apparatus bay and training area and the construction of a two-story, 12,000-square-foot addition to house the administrative offices, emergency operations center and dormitory. He estimated the cost of the project at $4,187,000.

Roffo said that because the department has reduced the size of its fleet and no longer houses a mechanic, the station, with the addition of one bay at the south end of the building where a driveway now leads to the rear parking lot, will accommodate all its apparatus. The new addition would have public access and parking off Tremont Street, eliminating vehicle and pedestrian traffic from the apron in front of the apparatus bay.
City Manager Scott Myers has included a borrowing of $4.1 million for the project in his 2014-2015 budget. However, the estimate is based on a conceptual plan and a schematic design is required for a more accurate estimate of the construction cost.
Jonathan Halle of Warrenstreet told the committee that for the $67,400 an estimate within 5 or 10 percent could be prepared. If the City Council chooses to proceed with the project, the firm would prepare the construction documents required to put the work to bid for another $101,500. He said that the work could be bid later this year and construction begun as early as October. Alternatively the project could be undertaken in 2015 and completed in one construction season.
Myers assured the committee that the city could manage the principal and interest payments on a borrowing of $4.1 million at 4.25 percent with a 20-year term within its self-imposed limit of $3.282 million, but for four years. But, he suggested if the limit on annual debt service were annually adjusted for inflation at a conservative rate of 1.5-percent, it would never be exceeded.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 April 2014 01:16

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Historical Society & Heritage Commission planning impromptu 100th birthday party for Colonial Theater

LACONIA — The Heritage Commission and Laconia Historical and Museum Society will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Colonial Theater beneath the marquee on Sunday, April 13, from noon until 2 p.m.

Dorothy Duffy, who is among the organizers of the event, explained that the theater was built in 1913, but Benjamin Piscopo, its owner, was superstitious and delayed the opening until April 13, 1914.

The celebration is open to all, who are invited to "just come and be one of the living ghosts from the happy past" by sharing remembrances, photographs and mementos of the theater, enjoying light refreshments and singing "Happy Birthday."

The theater, owned by Pat Baldi, who also owns the Weirs Beach Drive-In, has been dark since 2002. In 2011 the Cultural Arts Center of Lakes Region, a non-profit corporation formed at the initiative of the city, mounted a major effort to acquire the theater that foundered when the appraised value fell far short of the asking price.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 April 2014 01:08

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