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Making room - Colonial project displaces 3 Canal Street businesses

04-05 Colonial businesses have to go

Frates Creative Arts Center, U Frame We Frame and the Silver Screen Salon on Canal Street in Laconia have been asked to move out by Sept. 1 to allow renovation of the Colonial Theatre building. (Michael Kitch photo/Laconia Daily Sun)



LACONIA — Three businesses on Canal Street — Frates Creative Arts Center, U-Frame We Frame and the Silver Screen Salon — will be required to relocate by the restoration of the Colonial Theatre.
"We knew it was going to happen," said Larry Frates, who has operated artists workshop and dance studio on Canal Street for 32 years. "We want the project to work."
The three businesses occupy a triangular building attached to the auditorium that originally served as the entrance to the stage, as well as housed the manager's office, dressing rooms and storage space. The entrance, through which elephants and automobiles along with stage sets, sound equipment and other large items once passed, is essential to the operation of the theater.
The building committee, formed by the Belknap Economic Development Council , which owns the property, to assist with the restoration considered two alternatives to the original stage entrance: one from the Citizens Bank drive-up facility behind the theater on Beacon Street East and another through the Laconia Antiques Center abutting the theater on Main Street. However, the costs of acquiring, renovating and reconfiguring those properties proved prohibitive and the committee decided to restore the entrance on Canal Street
City Councilor David Bownes, who serves on the building committee, said that after meeting with the business owners representatives of the Belknap Economic Development Council agreed to provide them with assistance in moving their furnishings and inventory and relocating their operations. In addition, the council has forgiven payment of rent beginning on April 1. He said that the businesses have been asked to move by Sept. 1, but added "that date is not cast in stone."
"We've been here when there was nothing," said Frates, "and gone through the ups and downs with the redoing of Main Street and Canal Street. I think we've contributed something to keeping downtown alive." He said that he has already been contacted by a number of people with suggestions of a new location, but added that he has not begun searching in earnest. "We've always had a strong commitment to downtown," he said, "and we're not going away."
Jen Russo of the salon next door opened last August. She said that she made a significant investment from her own pocket in improving the space, including both electrical and plumbing work.
"I was hoping this would be my last stop," she said, "but I understand the situation and intend to stay positive. Russo said she had begun looking for new space downtown, but was finding others were getting to it ahead of her. "I've started looking outside of downtown."

Adopt-A-Spot seeking ‘foster parents’ to beautify public spaces in Laconia

LACONIA — Each year the Parks and Recreation Departments tends 56,000 square feet — an acre-and-a-quarter — of flower and shrubbery beds and borders scattered all across the city, some of which have been adopted by individuals, clubs and businesses while others remain in the foster care of the department.

"We want to encourage more people to take ownership of their beautiful city by participating in our Adopt-a-Spot program," said Amy Lovisek.

She said that a sign placed on each spot designates those — the person or firm — who have contributed their time, energy and resources to caring for it. At the end of the growing season, the finest spots in different categories are honored with awards.

There are almost three dozen spots open for adoption around the city, including beds in city parks, traffic islands and at municipal buildings, which can be found on the Parks and Recreation Department's website.

Spots need planting, watering, fertilizing, mulching, pruning, deadheading and weeding. Some but not all have access to water. Lovisek stressed that those adopting a spot should be prepared to garden throughout the season and, if they wish, to plant mums in the fall.

"We want the city to look beautiful," she said, "not neglected."

For more information call 524-5046 or click complete and submit the form on the department's website at

– Michael Kitch

County delegation lacks quorum, fails to make decision on pay raises


LACONIA — With only four of its 17 members present and three participating by telephone, the Belknap County Delegation recessed its scheduled meeting last and will reconvene on Wednesday, April 6, at 6 p.m.

With 17 members of delegation, the seven present fell two short of the nine required for a quorum to conduct business. A quorum of nine was required.

The delegation was slated to consider ratification of the collective bargaining agreement that would provide employees of the Belknap County House of Corrections with their first pay raise in four years. The contract was negotiated between the Belknap County Commissioners and representatives State Employees Association representing the employees. The terms of the agreement mirror those of the agreement between the county and the Teamsters Local 633, which the delegation approved by a vote of 10 to 5 last August.

Rep. Frank Tilton, who chairs the delegation, and representatives Glen Aldrich of Gilford, Dennis Fields of Sanbornton and Don Flanders of Laconia, were present while representatives Russ Dumais of Gilford, Dave Russell of Gilmanton, and Peter Spanos of Laconia participated by telephone.

All 17 members of the delegation are Republicans.