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Pulling in is out around Bristol Square

BRISTOL — Parking in parts of downtown Bristol is all backward now, thanks to a major upgrade to Central Square. But please, town officials are urging locals, bear with the changes and you will get used to them.
The introduction of some two dozen back-in diagonal parking spaces in the square area seems to be getting more attention than the other elements of the $1.6 million project, which included the installation of new water and sewer lines, improvements to the storm drains, the creation of traffic islands, a complete rebuilding of the roadways of the square and its immediately adjoining streets, and the addition of new landscaping and new streetlights.
The project is now essentially complete, according to Town Administrator Michael Capone. The only work that remains is a few "to-do" items on a punch list, he said.
Voters approved the project in the 2010 Town Meeting, Capone said. Some preliminary work took place last fall and, after a pause during the winter, work resumed in earnest this spring. While the project was partially funded through federal grants, much of the cost — $815,000 — will be locally funded through a combination of general tax revenue and user fees charged to water and sewer system customers, Capone explained. The town also approved spending $70,000 on new energy-efficient and more aesthetically-pleasing streetlights, he added.
Capone said that the new water and sewer lines replaced some that might have been as much as 100 years old. In addition, the upgraded water mains will make it possible for downtown building owners to install sprinkler systems, an enhancement which should make the buildings more attractive to developers or prospective tenants, he said.
Capone said Bristol has an active downtown area and the Central Square Project "will hopefully attract more business and investment in the future."
He said the changes in traffic flow and parking are intended to make the square more "pedestrian friendly." Traffic around the square's island is now one-way and there are 24 back-in diagonal parking spaces in the square proper in front of the Rollins Block as well as along North Main and Spring streets.
"Some people have voiced concerns" about the new parking arrangement, but "most of what I hear is positive," Capone said.
Capone said that back-in, on-street parking offers many safety advantages compared to traditional head-in parking. He said people getting out of cars will, because of the vehicle's open door, instinctively move to the sidewalk and away from traffic. Loading items into a trunk or tailgate is easier and safer to do from the sidewalk than the street. Also, it is much safer for drivers to pull out of a parking space head-first, with a clear view of oncoming traffic, rather than having to back out into traffic, with their visibility sometimes further hampered by the heavily tinted windows of the vehicle parked next to them.
"It's like anything else; you get used to it," Capone said. He said that the town has put together brochures which explain the new parking set-up and Bristol police are handing them out whenever they see a vehicle that is parked in a space the wrong way or whenever a motorist raises a concern.
But some people are worried that the new parking arrangement is more of a hindrance than a help.
Cindy Foote, who spends her summers on nearby Newfound Lake, said back-in parking ties up traffic in the square. She said that people backing into the spaces are limited in their maneuvering by the traffic island. She said the process of parking takes longer than turning into a parking space head-first.
"I went down to the Square on Sunday just to try it out," she said, "It took me five minutes (to get into the space properly) and all these cars were stopped to wait for me."
But Capone says that backing into a spot isn't much more difficult than parallel parking.
While Bristol is the first community in the area to implement back-in parking, the concept is not a new one and many other communities have been using it for some time. Cities such as Des Moines, Iowa, Seattle, Portland, Ore., Pensacola, Fla., Indianapolis and New York City already use the model.

Last Updated on Saturday, 31 August 2013 02:31

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Downtown group planning to host N.H. all things coffee festival on Sept. 14

LACONIA — The Main Street Initiative aims to wake up downtown by staging the first ever New Hampshire Coffee Festival sponsored by the Bank of New Hampshire on Saturday, September 14.

John Moriarty, president of the organization, said yesterday that as home to three coffee roasting enterprises, Laconia was the ideal venue to celebrate one of the most popular beverages in the world. Altogether nine coffee roasters will be among the more than two dozen vendors at the event offering coffee in all its many guises as well as "everything coffee," including popcorn, cup cakes, ice cream, gelato and even soap.

Entertainment will feature the music of the Jonathan Lorentz Trio playing their own brand of what Moriarty called "coffee house jazz." The Grace Capital Church will stage the "Java Games," a series of coffee sack races, coffee bean bag tossing and coffee tic-tac-toe capped by a coloring contest. "There is something for ages," Moriarty said.

A symposium, headed by Claudia Barrett of CQ Coffee Roasters of Bedford, New Hampshire, a licensed Q grader accredited by the Coffee Quality Institute who will explain the chemistry and alchemy of coffee while offering advice on how to brew the perfect pot. D Squared Java of Exeter, New Hampshire will present an exhibition and host a competition of "latte arts," or carving decorations to embellish a cup of latte.

Moriarty said that "building community before commerce" is the mantra of the Main Street Initiative and a festival celebrating the most social and convivial of drinks provides an occasion for people to come together and share a common experience. At the same time, he said that the festival is part of the Main Street Initiative's fundraising campaign, which aims to enhance the holiday lighting downtown as well as provide a scholarship to a start-up business.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 August 2013 02:11

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Cyclist & pickup collide on Belmont highway

BELMONT — Yesterday was a local man's lucky day when he escaped serious injury after colliding with a pickup on Rte. 106 around 11;30 a.m.

Police said the Belmont man, about 30 years of age, was riding his bicycle on the wrong side of the road and struck a pickup that was making a right turn on to the highway from Sleeper's Welding.

Police said the bicyclist hit the side of the truck, flipped over the hood, and landed on his back.

The bicyclist was able to get up a walk around and the investigating officer said he had a few scrapes and bruises but otherwise appeared unharmed. As a precaution, the officer said the injured man was strapped to a board by emergency crews and taken to the hospital for evaluation.

Police said neither the bicycle nor the truck appeared to be overly damaged.

While police are classifying this as an accident, they said technically both drivers share some blame in that the bicyclist should have been in the south-bound lane if he was pedaling south and the driver should have looked both ways before made the right turn heading north onto Rte. 106.

Belmont Police want to remind all bicyclists that traffic ordinances must be obeyed as if riders were operating a car. Police also suggest all bicyclists wear helmets.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 August 2013 01:59

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Moultonborough property reval complete; letters are in the mail

MOULTONBOROUGH — With the updating of property values for 2013 nearly complete, the total assessed valuation of the town appears to have fallen by approximately one-percent.

Vision Government Solutions, the appraisal firm retained by the town, has sent letters to the owners of the some 7,400 parcels of land in town, stating the proposed assessed value of taxable land and buildings as of April 1, 2013. Property owners wishing to question or seeking an explanation of these values should contact Vision as soon as possible to schedule an informal hearing.

Appointments can be scheduled on-line at www.vgsi.com/schedules or by calling 1-888-844-4300 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. any business day before Friday, September 6. Appointments may be conducted by telephone for those unable to meet with a representative in-person.

Property owners are welcome to question their assessment, the information on the property card and the data used to calculate the proposed value. However, representatives of the firm will not be able to discuss or predict the tax bill charged to particular properties.

Hearing by appointment only will be held at the Town Hall between August 29 and September 6, though property owners can schedule their hearing as a telephone conference call if they cannot attend on one of the scheduled days. Property owners wishing to request a review of their assessment and submit written evidence they wish to be considered should make their request and forward their evidence to Vision Government Solutions, c/o Assessor's Office, P.O. Box 139, Moultonborough, NH 03254 no later than September 9.

The proposed values and property data is available on-line at the town's website, www.moultonboroughnh.gov, by clicking on Departments and Boards on the home page then Assessor and Property Values (preliminary 2013). The information is also available at the Town Hall and Public Library.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 August 2013 01:53

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