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Historic Laconia Veterans Square church building will be converted into Irish pub/restaurant by Hampton couple

LACONIA — David and Maureen Kennedy of Hampton, who trace their roots to Tipperrary and Galway respectively, plan to convert the former Evangelical Baptist Church on Veterans Square into a restaurant and pub with a distinctive Celtic flavor.

Kennedy discussed his plans for the building with the city's Technical Review Committee on Wednesday and is scheduled to seek the approval of the Planning Board next month.

Planning Director Shanna Saunders said "we fast tracked this project."

Kennedy said that he expects to close on the purchase of the building from the church next month and anticipates completing the conversion in seven months. "We'd like to catch some of the summer," he said.

In search of larger accommodations, the Evangelical Baptist Church moved to Lakeport after purchasing the former Our Lake of the Lakes building complex from the Roman Catholic Church.

The restaurant will be the Kennedy's second, both housed in churches. The Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub in what what was St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Epping has twice been chosen as the state's finest Irish pub by New Hampshire Magazine.

Kennedy likened the historic Laconia church — originally constructed at the corner of Church and North Main Streets, in front of the Public Library —  to a large split-level ranch house, explaining that a staircase at the entrance leads to an upper and lower level. He said that while he is still in the process of preparing plans he expects the dining room and bar will be on the upper level while a "village setting" with a cafe as its centerpiece would occupy the lower level, which would be lined with he called "faux shops," offering bakery items, packaged foodstuffs and perhaps Irish products. He described the lower level as a space for people to congregate while waiting for a table or enjoying a coffee after dinner.

Kennedy said that he plans to add a second story to a triangular addition at the rear of the building where for the kitchen, offices, utilities and storage. In Epping, he said he was able to provide seating in the choir loft of St. Joseph's Church above the main floor of the dining area and has contemplated adding a mezzanine to the Evangelical Church if the structure will support it.

Because the the building occupies the entire lot, Kennedy said that finding a discreet place for a dumpster has proved his sternest challenge. He said that conversations with neighboring businesses have been encouraging and is confident of resolving the issue.

The menu, like that in Epping, will feature traditional Irish offerings like shepherd's pie, fish and chips, corn beef and cabbage and boiled dinner along side more conventional fare like steak, seafood, pasta and burgers. He said that daily and seasonal specials, using fresh local ingredients, will be served. In Epping, nearly two dozen brands of beer — of course, including Guinness — are on tap.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 07:35

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Street with no houses on it (yet) accepted as town road

GILFORD — After getting off to a rocky start two weeks ago, the company which created a subdivision off Cotton Hill Road got its roadway formally accepted as a town road last night.

Blue Sky Enterprises President Karen Feltham explained to selectmen that the lots off Rowe Farm Road are now in "current use" and will generate land use change tax income for the town as that status is changed. Even though none of the sold ave been sold as of yet, Blue Sky wanted the town to accept the road as a Class V street so it would make them easier to sell.

When Feltham's business partner Howard Warren asked for the same thing at a previous meeting, selectmen got testy when he mentioned that he would take the town to court if they didn't accept the road.

Feltham made no such claims last night. Instead, she explained to the selectmen that there is an inconsistency in the town's ordinances regarding the definitions of private ways verses public streets.

"As a technical matter, there is a zoning issue if you don't take the road," she said.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn had recommended Blue Sky sell at least three lots before the town accepts the road because there is no public need to plow a road with no houses and town ordinances allow as many as two houses to be built on a private road.

Feltham explained that with the entire parcel under current use, the town gets no real tax revenue. Each lot that sells will generate $8,000 in current use penalty, plus an annual property tax bill. When houses are built, Feltham said the town will get even more tax revenue.

Feltham suggested a compromise in that Blue Sky would plow the road for this winter as long as selectmen agree to a date certain to accept the road, which she said will make it easier to sell the lots.

"I understand the town doesn't want to plow a road with no houses," she said, telling selectmen that she has one lot under contract and another with a right of first refusal.

At first, Selectmen John O'Brien and Gun Benavides moved and seconded her compromise proposal but Selectman Chair Kevin Hayes — who was not at the first meeting with Blue Sky and who is the board's representative to the Planning Board — said he wanted to accept it now as opposed to the spring.

He noted the road wasn't very long and would simply be incorporated into a plow driver's route during a snow storm. "In the big spoke of things, it won't cost us much," Hayes said.

"I want the town to take the road now," Hayes said. "It's the right thing to do."

Agreeing with him was Department of Public Works Director Sheldon Morgan, who said the road was built perfectly, the driveway cuts have been preplanned with his assistance and he would like to have control over the road so he knows it is being maintained properly. Sheldon also said the town would get a little more state highway money if it accepts it as public.

After listening to all sides, selectmen made their vote unanimous to accept the road as a town street last night.

In other business, selectmen also announced that the town will get $18,222 in Federal Disaster Aid for a snow storm last March.

In addition, the United States Tennis Association gave the town a $1,320 grant to be applied toward resurfacing the tennis courts. Selectmen accepted the gift and reworked their previous approval of the resurfacing to reflect the grant.

CAPTION - Rowe Farm Road is at the heart of new subdivison off Cotton Hill Road in Gilford. This photo is taken from the center of the cul-de-sac facing Cotton Hill Road. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 October 2013 03:54

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Girl Scouts among recipients of Belmont Heritage Awards

BELMONT — The town yesterday honored a construction company, local Girls Scouts, and a farming couple for their contributions to the town's quality of life.
The Board of Selectmen honored Busby Construction for the work its crew performed in the village revitalization project, the Girl Scouts and their leaders for youth volunteerism, and Cindy and Joseph Rolfe for helping to preserve the town's agricultural heritage.
The winners of the Community Heritage Awards received a framed certificate featuring the 1833 Belmont Mill tower. The annual presentations, which began in 2011, are held to coincide with National History Week. Belmont Heritage Commission Chairman Linda Frawley announced the recipients which Selectmen Chairman Ron Cormier presented the certificates.
The Busby Construction crew, headed by Rick Segalini was cited for the way it carried out the village revitalization project and for its advice regarding the historic bandstand.
The Girl Scouts were honored for their many contributions to the town over years, in particular their entry to the town's Old Home Day parade, and the planting 2,500 daffodils in the Village area.
Cindy and Joseph Role were honored for the restoration of the 1860s Lacasse-Rolfe Farm on Route 106, which has involved the reclaiming of pasture land and the rebuilding of stone walls. The couple also recently planted 1,000 apple trees.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 October 2013 03:46

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Resurfacing of Smith Track to be accomplished soon

LACONIA – After being below par for nearly a year, Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Dunleavy said Smith Track at Opechee Park is scheduled to get its new surface sometime in the next two weeks.

Dunleavy estimated the cost of resurfacing the running track at $33,000. He said the company hired for the resurfacing is Cape and Islands Track and Tennis of the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts.

For the past 15 years the top layer of the track has been rubber granules raked to an even plane and then sprayed with a latex binder. Meant to be porous so water would seep down during the rain or snow melt and evaporate later, Dunleavy said the refurbishing jobs done in 2001, 2005, and 2011 made the top layer thicker and less able to transmit water and moisture. He also said the constant use packs the top surface which also contributes to it being less porous.

With moisture trapped between the layers, as the sun heats the track, water turns to vapor but with no way to dissipate the vapor, the surface of the track began to bubble and eventually buckle in spots.

Dunleavy said the city is still in financial negotiations with the company that did a resurfacing in August of 2011 and some repair work in 2012. He said the company owner keeps telling him the bubbling and buckling "is not of his making."

When the track bubbled again in June of 2012 the city closed it again. Dunleavy said last week that tracks with similar top layers experienced similar problems so the city decided that the entire rubberized surface would have to be removed.

Money for the resurfacing was included in this fiscal year's capital improvement budget.

Dunleavy said that the new surface, which is about medium grade, will be installed and then lined within the next two weeks. He described medium grade as better than the first track but not the grade that colleges and professional stadiums use.

He said the estimated life of the new surface is about eight years when the track itself is 22 years old. Dunleavy said a complete new track will likely be needed in 2020.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 October 2013 03:39

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