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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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Inter-Lakes initiatives will be aimed at building greenhouse at elementary school & adding light to I-LHS football field

MEREDITH — The Inter-Lakes School Board has given its blessing to efforts to solicit community support for two initiatives involving school facilities. One calls for building an instructional greenhouse at Inter-Lakes Elementary School. The second calls for installing lights and making other improvements at the Inter-Lakes High School athletic field.
The board gave the nod to both endeavors at its meeting Monday evening.
Dr. Steve Kelley, principal of the school's lower grades, said he wants to build a greenhouse to be a "living classroom" where children would receive basic education through hands-on learning.
"There's too much talk about, and not enough immersion in," Kelley told the board explaining why he thinks the greenhouse is a good way to stimulate the interest of youngsters who do not respond as readily to more-traditional forms of classroom instruction.
He said he decided to put forth the greenhouse idea after watching a poor student become a motivated learner after several weeks of taking care of the principal's pet hermit crab.
Kelley estimated the cost to build and equip the greenhouse would be about $65,000. He said that he wants to be able to approach groups and individuals in the community to defray the cost of the project.
"Digging in the dirt will get the kids turned on to learning," Kelley said. He also believed the greenhouse would be an opportunity to get parents and families more involved in the school.
Kelley said the financial impact of the greenhouse program would be minimal and would not require the hiring of additional staff.
The plan to make improvements to the artificial turf athletic field was made by resident Chris Kelly, who said he wanted to organize a committee to push the project and build community support.
The main element of the improvements would be the installation of lights at the artificial-turf playing field, which would allow for night games. Other improvements would be construction of concession and rest room facilities and the installation of drainage.
Kelly said he envisioned that funding support would come not only from Inter-Lakes communities, but from outside the local area, too. He said he planned to meet with Meredith town officials to present the idea to them. School Board member Howard Cunningham urged Kelly to also approach officials in Center Harbor and Sandwich, since those communities are part of the Inter-Lakes District.
Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond said there was the potential of the district getting additional revenue for the use of its athletic field if it could be used for night games or other events.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 October 2013 03:29

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Belmont Selectboard agrees to lease old Winnisquam Fire Station to marina

BELMONT — Selectmen say they are receptive to turning over use of the former Winnisquam Fire Station to a neighboring business.
On Tuesday the board indicated it would support leasing the building on Sunset Drive to Winnisquam Marine. Town Administrator K. Jeanne Beaudin said that Winnisquam Marine owner Ed Crawford has expressed interest in securing the building for possible use as boat storage and other purposes. Beaudin said Crawford plans to view the property next month. The former fire station is located across Sunset Drive from the marina, which is situated at the corner of Sunset and Rte 3 (Laconia Rd.).
The volunteer Winnisquam Fire Company was disbanded in 2006 and 2007 and the volunteer fire company turned the facility over to the town of Belmont. Most recently the Belmont Parks and Recreation Department has been using the building for its programs. Beaudin said the Parks and Recreation Department will soon vacate the old fire station and will be moving to the second floor of the Belmont Mill in the second week of November.
Selectmen said they were willing to lease the building to Winnisquam Marine in the short term provided the business agrees to pay all insurance and maintenance on the property in addition to paying rent and the cost of utilities. Beaudin said she would explore what other storage building owners and charging for rent before recommending what to charge the marina to rent the building.
Winnisquam Marine has said it is interested in buying the building. Any sale, however, would have to be approved by the voters at Town Meeting, selectmen noted.
NOTES: Selectmen reviewed the proposed 2014 budgets for several town departments. The largest budget the examined was for Public Works, which is proposing to spend $1,014,354.64. Other budgets which were reviewed included the Town Clerk's Office, the Finance Office, the library ($31,433), sold waste ($544,539), and patriotic purposes ($20,229). The selectmen expect to conclude their review of town department budgets at their next meeting set for Oct. 21.
Library Trustees told selectmen that Rebecca Albert has been hired as the new library director.
Selectmen approved spending $31,300 for an engineering study for the first phase of a multiphase-reconstruction of Ladd Hill Road.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 October 2013 03:16

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New co-op says Mooneys have a legal right to speak for Briarcrest residents

LACONIA — Responding to a petition filed on behalf of Mark and Ruth Mooney, the owners of Briarcrest Estates, asking the Belknap County Superior Court to approve the sale of their manufactured housing park to Maple Holding and Redevelopment, LLC, the Lakemont Cooperative, formed by residents seeking to purchase the park, claims that the court has no appropriate role in the transaction and charges the owners with failing to negotiate in good faith as the law requires.

In July, the Mooney tentatively accepted an offer from Maple Holding and Redevelopment, LLC of Orlando, Florida, an affiliate of Hometown America, Inc. of Chicago, among the largest owners of manufactured parks in the country, to purchase the 183-acre park with 241 home sites for $10 million. However, state law entitles the tenants to make a counter offer by presenting a purchase and sales agreement within 60 days of the first offer. The Lakemont Cooperative matched the $10 million offer.

The statute grants the cooperative "a reasonable time beyond the 60-day period, if necessary, to obtain financing for the purchase" and, in the meantime, requires the owners to bargain in good faith with the cooperative.
Representing the Mooneys, attorney John Giere, told the court that polling of residents indicated that a significant majority favored commercial over cooperative ownership of the park. Since the law is intended to safeguard the interests of tenants of the park, he argued that approving the sale to Maple Holding and Redevelopment, LLC would serve their best interests of the residents in keeping with the purpose of the law. At the same time, he asked the court to rule that the Mooneys should not be liable to penalties, amounting to $10,000 or 10 percent of the sale price whichever is greater, for failing to bargain in good faith.
Attorney Robert Shepherd of Nashua, acting for the newly-formed cooperative, rejected Geire's presumption that the Mooneys, as the owners of the park, were in any position to represent the interests of its residents. He dismissed the results of the polls, which were taken by the Mooneys and their representatives, claiming that they were not conducted in a "fair" manner and suggesting that residents were subject to intimidation. In any event, Shepherd reminded the court that the statute does not prescribe that the cooperative include a specific number or percentage of residents to make an offer and pursue the transaction.
Shepherd told the court that the cooperative had not only presented a purchase and sales agreement but also agreed to pay a $100,000 deposit once the Mooneys signed the agreement. By refusing to sign the purchase and sales agreement, he claimed, the Mooneys have wrongfully refused to consider the cooperative's offer and failed to negotiate in good faith. Moreover, he said that the Mooneys have withheld the financial information the cooperative requires to proceed with its due diligence.
Since the statute speaks for itself and governs the process, Shepherd concluded that there is no reason for the court to intervene, let alone to waive money penalties if the Mooneys persist in refusing to bargain in good faith with the cooperative.
Meanwhile, residents opposed to a sale to the cooperative have incorporated as the Briarcrest Estates Home Owners Association, which this week retained attorney Phil McLaughlin to represent their interests before the court.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 October 2013 03:08

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