No short-term solution for Jewett Brook flooding

LACONIA β€” Although Jewett Brook again jumped its banks and flooded properties at the foot of Winter Street during Wednesday's 5-inch rainfall, Luke Powell, assistant director of Public Works, said yesterday there is no prospect of reducing the risk of flooding in the foreseeable future.

Since 2008 Powell has sought to restore Jewett Brook, which would increase its capacity to carry optimal volumes of water while diminishing the risk of flooding. He took the initiative after Normandin Square flooded four times in three years β€”in October, 2005, in May and July, 2006 and again in April 2007. Since then Normandin Square has been spared, but, like this week, yards and cellars on Winter Street have filled with water a number of times.

Jewett Brook rises in Gilford, not far south of Swain Road, and flows northward to Liberty Hill Road, where it is fed by a tributary meandering southwest from Saltmarsh Pond. Paralleling Liberty Hill Road, the brook passes beneath County Club Road and the Rte. 3 and 11 Bypass and crosses the Lakes Business Park. At Hounsell Avenue, just south of the northern entrance to the park on Gilford Avenue, the main stem of the brook is joined by a major tributary that originates to the northeast, on the north side of Route 11-A about halfway between the bypass and Hoyt Road. From there the brook runs westward, roughly parallel to Gilford Avenue, skirts Tardiff Park and runs under Highland Street and Union Avenue before passing under the Normandin Square Apartments and Davis Place from where it empties into the Winnipesaukee River some 250 yards above the Avery Dam.
The brook, along with its major and minor tributaries, stretches for about five miles, with the main stem and its major tributary representing 3.5 miles. Its watershed covers 5.4 square miles, most of it in Gilford. Less than a mile of the brook flows through the city. Likewise, a small fraction of the watershed of Jewett Brook, which extends from downtown Laconia in the west to Hoyt Road in the east and north of Gilford Avenue south to the Belmont town line, lies within the city limits.
Following the flooding in 2007, the Department of Public Works (DPW) was awarded $100,000 in federal funding with which it underwrote two studies, one of the entire 5.4-square-mile watershed of Jewett Brook and another of the stretch from upstream of the Union Avenue Bridge to the Winnipesaukee River, a distance of about 1,200 feet.

The first study concluded that the main stem of Jewett Brook east of the bypass was "good", but found the condition of the stretch through the city, from the bypass to the river, only fair.

The second study, prepared by Dubois & King, Inc., found the capacity of the stream bed under the Union Avenue bridge, the dimensions of which have been shrunk by accumulated sediment, to be the principal choke point. The engineers concluded that neither widening the bridge nor raising the roadway would be practical and recommended dredging the channel beneath Union Avenue as the most cost-effective means reducing the frequency of flooding.

However, dredging requires a permit from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES). The agency has insisted that before seeking a permit to dredge, the city must first take to restore the capacity of the brook and reduce the flow of sediments upstream of the bridge and elsewhere in the watershed.

Powell said that DPW secured a $40,000 federal grant through DES to begin work upstream of the bridge. He said the department sought to negotiate an easement with the owner of the property adjacent to the bridge, which originally housed a Catholic school and was most recently a branch office of TD Bank, to restore the channel, but failed to reach agreement. Consequently, last year DES rescinded the grant.

Powell said that without the resources to undertake the improvements upstream that DES requires, efforts to alleviate the flooding are at a standstill. "Right now, there is nothing we can do," he said.

'Lucky' dog has his day

LACONIA β€” "Lucky Jr.", the mascot at Sanborn's Auto Repair on Court Street, celebrated his third birthday in style yesterday afternoon and drew a big crowd to a ''Throwback Thursday'' event at the business.
Perhaps the best known dog in the Lakes Region, thanks to his frequent appearances in the company's ads in The Daily Sun, the affable English Lab is also a registered therapy dog according to his owner, Ginny Sanborn..
She says he has fans all around the area, including the St. Francis Home in Laconia, where he is a regular visitor, and at Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro where all the ads featuring him are displayed.
Earlier this year he was the the guest of honor at the Profile Bank's ''Dog Days of Summer'' celebration which marked the 10th anniversary of the opening of the bank's Alton branch office.
Among those turning out for the birthday party, which featured refreshments, balloons and gift bags, was 77-year-old Bob Lemay of Laconia, who said that he and Lucky both share the same birthday.
''They didn't believe that when I first met Lucky so I showed them my driver's license,'' said Lemay, who said that since a year in a dog's life amounts to seven human years, that Lucky will some day be older than him. ''He's 21 right now in human years,'' said Lemay. That would mean that in 10 years Lucky will be 91 and Lemay only 87.
Jane Kuzmak of Laconia said that she really enjoys Lucky and was happy to be at his birthday party. ''He's more like a human being than a pet. He's just so friendly and fun to be around.''
''Everybody loves 'Lucky'. He's a well adjusted dog who loves being around people,'' says Sanborn. She says that a phone call to Michigan in an attempt to find an English Lab to replace the original Lucky led to her being referred to a person from Nashua who was an English Lab breeder.
''He had already been sold to a family but the girl thought he was too big so they brought him back and took home his sister,'' says Sanborn.
''This has been a match made in heaven,'' says Sanborn, who handles advertising and public relations for the auto repair business and is no stranger to the news media, having appeared on the Nashville Network Show in 1996 hosted by Katie Haas in which she was New Hampshire's representative in ''America's Ultimate Cowgirl'' competition.
She says that proceeds from the event, which included a raffle of tickets to Patriots-Jets football game on October 25, will go to the Franklin Animal Shelter.

"Lucky Jr.", the mascot at Sanborn's Auto Repair in Laconia, celebrated his third birthday yesterday. Shown with Lucky are Jane Kuzmak, Bob Lemay, ''Doggie'', in costume, and, kneeling. Lucky's owner Ginny Sanborn, and Shane Kaplan. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

All-day K cars snarl Belmont El traffic

BELMONT β€” The introduction of full-day kindergarten has led to traffic problems at Belmont Elementary School, where earlier this week Principal Sheila Arnold called on the police to ease congestion stalling traffic on Rte. 140 and ensure the safety of children entering school amid queuing vehicles.

Arnold explained that with the transition from half-day to full-day kindergarten, all 96 pupils, which is 13 more than were enrolled in half-day kindergarten a year ago, reach and leave school at the same time. "it's an increase of about 50 cars," she said. She said that as cars line up to drop off children the queue spills into Rte. 140.

Lieutenant Richard Mann of the Belmont Police, said that when the school called for assistance on Monday the police were fielding calls from irate motorists caught in stalled traffic. He said that police shuffled cars bringing children to school into two lanes, which alleviated then congestion. He said that police recommended parents drop off and pick up children at the rear of the school building, which would eliminate or minimize the back up of traffic on the highway.

"We'd been muddling through," Arnold confessed. "It wasn't safe. So I called the experts." She said that dropping off and picking up at the rear of the school creates space for about 40 cars, eliminating any significant overflow on to Rte. 140.

Arnold added the situation would be further improved at the end of the school day if parents would not arrive too early, but closer to the last bell when children are ready to leave so that stopped traffic does not back up.