By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — After 30 years of leasing its land on Lily Pond Road, the Belknap County Sportsmen’s Association has a purchase and sales agreement with the Laconia Airport Authority, but some major steps need to take place before the club can own that land outright.
According to airport manager Marv Everson, the Gilford Planning Board must approve the subdivision, which was on its agenda for Monday night. Should the subdivision be approved, an appraiser needs to get a “Yellow Book” appraisal, or one that meets the terms set by the Federal Aviation Administration.
After that, the appraisal goes to the state Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics for review. If approved, it will be sent to the FAA for approval.
“I’ve been told that it could take as little as one month or as many as six or seven months to get an answer from the FAA,” he said, noting that all have agreed this piece of land is not needed nor will it ever be needed for airport use.
Time is of the essence because the 30-year lease between the Airport Authority and the association expires on Oct. 1. While the lease price has been $100 a year, Everson said the FAA has insisted on getting a fair-market value should a lease arrangement continue, which he has estimated to be $5,000 a year.
According to the association’s attorney, Mike Persson, it has formed the Belknap County Sportsmen’s Charitable Fund and has achieved a 501(c)(3) tax status as a nonprofit.
Originally, Persson said, the Sportsmen’s Association was at the end of the runway. Thirty years ago the FAA and the airport asked them to move so the runway could be lengthened.
“The 30-year lease at $100 a year was the cost to (the airport) for expanding the runway,” Persson said.
But now that the lease is up, Everson said the FAA not only wants fair value for a future lease but needs to know that the money is being reinvested into the airport.
Everson said the decision to sell the property to the association makes more sense for both entities.
“All the revenue we take in is reinvested in the airport,” Everson said.
Persson said he is happy that the airport authority has recognized the value of the sportsmen’s association to area residents and that so far, all of the relations and negotiations have been positive.
Association member and Gilford Selectmen’s Chairman Richard “Rags” Grenier said the Belknap County Sportsmen’s Association is the only legitimate sportsmen’s club in the area, unless one were to go to Canterbury or Holderness.
He said the club offers fishing trips for children, hunting classes, archery classes, firearms safety classes, and outdoorsmanship classes for young and old.
Grenier said firearms safety and training has become one of the fastest growing segments of the industry and having a safe club with property trained instructors in the area is a great benefit to the citizenry.
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