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Late developing drainage issues led to another $67k expenditure at LHS fields

LACONIA — School Board Chair Joe Cormier said the reason the city's Join Building Committee decided to spend an additional $67,000 for drainage around the new playing fields behind the high school was because rain that fell after it initially chose not to caused additional runoff woes.

The committee, which is comprised representatives of the School Board and the City Council met in an emergency session on July 3 and had given its co-chairs Cormier and Councilor Bob Hamel the authority to decide if addition drainage work was needed and to authorize the contractors to design and complete it.

The drainage problems became evident following a deluge on June 30 that partially washed away some of the turf on the steep slopes from the upper (Bobotas) field below to the new Jim Fitzgerald Field at Bank of New Hampshire Stadium. Drainage around the lower field directly behind the school also proved inadequate.

The heavy rains in late June came after a month of near constant rain — historically unusual for this part of the country but recently becoming more and more common during early summer.

Cormier said engineers and contractors met repeatedly in the first few days after the runoff damage with him and Hamel and school administrators and, facing additional costs, had decided that the drainage was sufficient as planned and installed because it was too expensive to do the additional work engineers recommended. The initial thinking was that with a few tweaks the drainage would work as built.

At the July 20 School Board meeting, Cormier told board and the Lakes Region Public Access viewing audience about the decision not to spend any additional money on field drainage. He and Hamel later authorized the expenditures and updated the JBC and the public at an August 2 JBC meeting.

Cormier said this week that runoff generated by additional storms after the July 20 school board meeting but before the August 2 JBC meeting indicated the School District would have to spend an additional $67,000 from the contingency portion of the available money for additional engineering and drainage to protect the new fields.

The entire Huot Project, including the building addition, five new science labs and the Bank of New Hampshire Stadium is about 99 percent complete. The new fields, according to the JBC, should be finished in about two weeks.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 03:16

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Innkeepers say Weirs Beach music venue not abiding by terms of permit

LACONIA — The Planning Board deferred a decision on the request of Jay and Anthony Santagate, owners of the Tower Hill Tavern at Weirs Beach, to extend the hours of live music until 1 a.m. after nearby innkeepers said that the venue has not complied with the terms the board placed on its original approval.

In February, after more than two years of controversy, the board approved the Santagates' plan to provide a bar, stage and dance floor on the second floor where live bands would perform for up to 320 people. But, the board stipulated that no noise be "distinctly audible" more than 50 feet from the property line. Moreover, at Santagate's suggestion, the board stipulated that bands would play only until 11 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day and until 10 p.m. from Labor Day to Memorial Day.

Attorney Regina Nadeau, representing Robert and Michael Ames of Half Moon Cottages, stressed that "my clients have no intention of stopping the Santagates from having a night club, but they do want to protect their business and those of others." She claimed that at least nine patrons of the cottages have complained of the noise while some have checked out and others given refunds. "There has been a calculable amount of lost business," she said.

"We don't want to stop their business," Nadeau repeated, "but, they're not complying with the current rules." She urged the board to deny the application to extend the hours and instead conduct "a compliance review," including reconsideration of the insulation installed at the venue.

"It's not like we're against his business," Mike Ames remarked, "but we're asking him to do what it takes to be a good neighbor."

Joe Driscoll of the Cozy Inn and Lakeview House and Cottages, also insisted he was not seeking to stifle the Santagates' business. "We want good entertainment," he said. "But, when everything else is getting quieter, his is getting louder." Driscoll described the issue as one of property rights, noting that "I keep my business on my property and I expect others to do the same."

Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that the police, who enforce the noise regulations, told her that they had responded to only a couple of complaints pertaining to the Tower Hill Tavern.

Warren Huitchins, chairman of the board, suggested that before addressing Santagate's request "we need to resolve the differences of opinion about compliance with the existing regulations."

The board will return to the issue at its meeting in September, when Saunders said it will have another month of experience and the police can offer their perspective.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 03:11

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'Marshmallow 'triathletes' raise $5,000 for Child Advocacy Center

LACONIA — Seventy-one experienced and not-so-experienced endurance athletes from six states participated in Sunday's first Marshmallow Man Sprint Triathlon to benefit the Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center (GLCAC). Bruce Butterworth of Seabrook covered the three part course in 1:09:16 to win the mens' competition and Kayle Shapero of Boston came home in front of all the other women in 1:17:17.

GLCAC Program Director Meghan Noyes said her organization will net about $5,000 from the event and plans to do it bigger and better next year.

A sprint triathlon consists of a course that covers about one-quarter the distance of the renowned "Ironman" events. Both contests have three legs, with sprinters at the Marshmallow Man event starting with a half-mile swim in Lake Opechee, followed by a 14-bile bike ride and then a 5-k run.

Jamie Poire of Laconia was the fastest male finisher (1:18:24) among the locals entered — he finished fifth — and Deidre Cullen (1:18:06) of Gilford finished second on the female side. Ron Poitras (1:20:44) finished eighth and Whitney Paine (1:32:38) of Moultonborough was fifth and Lauren Cooper (1:36:16) of Laconia finished ninth.

There were only three entries in the team division (each athlete on a team completes one leg of the race) and Team Kokernack/Eckel/Folcick had the fastest time of 1:12:07.

Noyes said the event was developed and run with the help of several volunteers from the Lakes Region community, Laconia Police Department/Gilford Police/Belmont Police, members of Lakes Region CERT, Laconia Athletic and Swim Club and MC Cycle. Sponsors for the event included Metrocast, Laconia Athletic and Swim Club, Lakes Region Triathlon Club, Hart's Homemade Slush, T&A Gunnery, Laconia Police Relief, Gilford Police Relief, Franklin Savings Bank, MC Cycle, Laconia Ice Company, Rowell's Sewer and Drain, Buster the Balloon Twister and numerous community volunteers the day of the event.

The Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center provides services free of charge to all child sexual abuse, physical abuse or who are witnesses to violent crimes, such as homicide or domestic violence. In addition, the GLCAC provides community outreach and awareness through workshops/trainings.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 03:04

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Planners happy about plans for new, affordable apartments downtown

LACONIA — The Planning Board last night unanimously approved the proposal by the Laconia Area Community Land Trust to construct a three-story, affordable housing apartment building on the lot tucked between lower Union Avenue and the Winnipesaukee River last occupied by the F.W.Webb Company, a wholesale plumbing and heating firm.

Following the vote, Warren Hutchins, chairman of the board, congratulated Linda Harvey, executive director of the LACLT, for pursuing "a dynamic project" that would provide "a real shot in the arm for downtown."

The boundaries of the 1.87-acre parcel describe a triangle, with 685 feet of frontage on the river — 598 feet above Avery Dam — representing its longest side and bordered on the other two sides by Arch Street and Union Avenue. However, its frontage on Arch Street is limited by a 0.34-acre lot that runs more than half the length of the street from its intersection with Union Avenue owned by Combined Investments, LLC of Milton, Massachusetts, which houses two apartment buildings. The footbridge below the dam links the lot to the Rotary Park, Belknap Mill, One Mill Plaza and City Hall.

There are two buildings on the site, the original mill of 18,597-square-feet, built around 1850 at the river's edge, and a newer outbuilding of 5,154-square-feet near the corner of Arch Street and River Street. Both will be demolished to make way for the project.

Kevin Leonard of Northpoint Engineering, LLC of Pembroke told the board that the LACLT plans to demolish both existing structures on the lot and replace them with a new building will consist of two wings, paralleling Union Avenue and Arch Street and joined in the middle to form a "V." He said that the ground floor of the building will be at "river level" and the top floor even with Union Avenue.

The building will house 12 one-bedroom units, each 675-square-feet and 20 two-bedroom units of 864-square-feet. Like all the projects undertaken by the LACLT, the units will be offered at affordable rents and property taxes will be paid on the apartment building. A parking lot with an entrance at the corner of Arch Street and River Street will have spaces for 30 vehicles and a smaller lot along Union Avenue will have another 6 spaces. The lower level will be faced with brick and the upper levels with vinyl siding.

Leonard said that a stretch of the downtown riverwalk would be designed and built across the lot as part of the project, with the cost shared between the LACLT and the city.

Harvey estimated the cost of the project at approximately $4 million, but cautioned that this is not a firm figure. She said that the process of assembling the financing package the acquisition of the property and construction of the building is underway but not yet complete.

Although no one spoke against the project, the board raised two issues. First, Leonard explained that the lot included a parking area with a dozen spaces on Union Avenue, which are used by the owner of 100 Union Avenue, which abuts the parcel to the south, under the terms of an easement. He said that the LACLT is seeking to purchase the easement and, if successful, would incorporate this piece of the parcel into the project, but otherwise would not improve the area.

Jerry Mailloux insisted that the LACLT improve the entire property, stressing that the land along Union Avenue is an eyesore. He conceded the parking lot need not be reconstructed but said that the area should be landscaped and lighted to match the remainder of the frontage on Union Avenue. If the LACLT succeeds in purchasing the easement, Mailloux said that the stretch of a retaining wall on that section of the property should be rebuilt to match its counterpart on the rest of the site.

Second, the LACLT asked the board to waive the requirement to install a sidewalk on Arch Street, where it is not practicable. Although the board agreed, Don Richards said that since the project would increase traffic in the neighborhood, the safety of pedestrians, especially children, would be at greater risk. To address the issue the board denied the request for a waiver, but rather than require a sidewalk to be built in a specific location directed the LACLT to set aside funds for the construction of sidewalks in appropriate places in the neighborhood to enhance public safety.

The board granted the LACLT's request to waive impacts which, with an 80-perecent discount for an infill project, amounted to $11,140.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 02:34

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