Zoning board endorses changes to city's demolition ordinance as it pertains to historic structures

LACONIA — The Zoning Board of Adjustment this week endorsed amendments to the demolition ordinance drafted and recommended by the Heritage Commission and unanimously agreed to refer the proposed to the City Council for its approval.

Pam Clark, who has chaired the Heritage Commission since it was established nine years ago, described the ordinance as a "demolition delay" ordinance, adding that it is modeled on similar regulations in other municipalities, both in New Hampshire and other states. Enacted in 2005, the ordinance is intended to protect and preserve historic buildings slated for demolition by providing time to explore alternatives and, if demolition proceeds, to document the structure and preserve any salvageable remains.
The amendment, which has been more than a year in the drafting, would apply the ordinance to a greater number of properties than hte current law and provide more time to explore alternatives to demolition. The ordinance applies to buildings at least 50 years old and demolition of more than 700-square-feet of floor area, which in the judgment of the code enforcement officer qualify as "significant buildings".
To qualify as "significant" a building must satisfy at least one of the four following criteria. First, it must possess features and qualities that would qualify it as "a historical, cultural or architectural landmark" by national or state standards. Second,it must be constructed to an uncommon design or with unusual materials that could only be reproduced with great difficulty and at great expense would also qualify. Third, buildings of such architectural value or historic importance that their demolition would adversely impact the public interest would qualify. And finally the preservation of the building must contribute to protecting and preserving a place or area of historic interest.
The remainder of the ordinance prescribes the process triggered when an application is made to demolish a building. First, the code enforcement officer shall determine if the building qualifies as "significant". If it qualifies, the applicant must be informed within five business days that the application for a demolition permit must be reviewed by the Heritage Commission at its next regularly scheduled meeting before the building can be razed.
If the commission determines the building to be demolished is not significant, the applicant shall be informed and the demolition may proceed. On the other hand, if the commission determines the building is "significant" it shall schedule a public hearing at its next monthly meeting, of which the applicant will be informed within two business days. In addition the date, time and place of the hearing will be noticed by signage on the building and in the local newspaper.
If an alternative to demolition cannot be agreed at the public hearing, the commission and applicant shall meet within 10 days. If still no agreement about the future of the building can be reached, the commission may petition the City Council to defer issuance of the demolition permit for another 60 days to allow time to pursue alternatives, including acquisition or relocation of the building.

Clark told the ZBA that initially the commission sought to petition for a delay of 180 days, but found there was no precedent for such an extended period in New Hampshire.

When all options have been exhausted, the owner of the property may proceed with demolition.

With the consent of the owner the commission shall photograph the building and encourage salvage of its significant features.
Clark said that the commission had been asked to consider allowing a property owner to request that a building be exempt from the ordinance, but rejected the notion. She noted that properties are not exempt from other requirements of the zoning ordinance or building code.
Planning Director Shanna Saunders explained that although an intern has compiled of survey of older buildings, it does not represent a registry and bears no relation to the demolition ordinance. The application of the ordinance, she stressed, would be triggered only by applications for demolition permits. Clark said that the commission had reviewed only two properties — the Putnam house and Hathaway house — during her tenure.

New 9-hole disc-golf course at Bolduc Park named in memory of Chris Daigle

LACONIA/GILFORD — Bolduc Park unveiled its new Chris Daigle Disc Golf Course Tuesday morning in a ceremony attended by Laconia and Gilford officials and the parents of the former standout athlete at Laconia High School for whom the course is named.
Jeff and Lorraine Daigle said that their son, Chris, was an avid disc golf player who played practically every day in Florida and had expressed the hope that their would more disc golf courses developed in New Hampshire so he could play at them when he made his planned move back to his home state.
They said that at a family gathering held in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, just before his sister Lynn was to be deployed in Afghanistan, he insisted that the family find a disc golf course and play a game.
''It was the last time we were together as a family,'' his father, Jeff, recalled yesterday, saying that Chris' untimely death at the age of 34 about two years ago left its mark on the family.
''It's been a difficult couple of years for us.'' he said, recalling that Chris had been involved in sports all of his life.
An energetic child, Chris had played youth sports and became a standout tailback for the Laconia High School, where he was a member of the 1995 NHIAA Division III state championship team, and was also a catcher for Laconia High School and later in college at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord.
After his move to Florida he became involved in youth sports there as a baseball umpire and a football referee.
Daigle said that it was ''unbelievably healing for us'' to see the disc golf course and thanked Bob Bolduc, owner of Piche's Ski Shop who developed Bolduc Park, which straddles the Laconia-Gilford boundary, about 20 years ago as a non-profit public recreation area. The park has a nine-hole golf course as well as cross-country ski trails and now offers one of the few disc golf courses in the Lakes Region.

'Every organization takes on the personality of its leader. He was the driving force to get this done,'' said Daigle, praising the determination Bolduc showed in making the disc golf course a reality.
Bolduc said that Eric Petell of Meredith Village Savings Bank helped design the course and thanked sponsors who helped make the course possible.
Bolduc said that he is proud of the volunteers who help run Bolduc Park and noted that the new recreation opportunity was built at no cost to taxpayers.
Also attending the ceremony were Gilford Parks and Recreation Director Herb Greene, Gilford Town Administrator Scott Dunn and Laconia Mayor Ed Engler.
Engler congratulated the Daigle family for their efforts on behalf of the disc golf course and said that the course offers ''an amenity we have been lacking'' noting that in his travels through the Midwest he saw a disc golf course in virtually every community.
Bolduc Park will hold its first annual Chris Daigle Disc Golf Tournament this weekend as well as its 22nd annual Bolduc Park Golf Tournament. Play gets underway in both tournaments on Friday and winds up on Sunday with a 4 p.m. barbecue.

The first annual Chris Daigle Disc Golf Tournament will be held at Bolduc Park on August 21-22-23. Shown at a ceremony unveiling the Disc Golf course are Herb Greene, Gilford Parks and Recreation Department director. Ed Engler, Laconia Mayor; Roberto Pabon of Meredith Village Savings Bank; Tom Messmore, vice president of Bolduc Park; Scott Dunn, Gilford Town Administrator; Eric Petell of Meredith Village Savings Bank; Lorraine Daigle; Jeff Daigle, Jeff Moses of Bolduc Park and Bob Bolduc of Piche's Ski Shop and founder of Bolduc Park. (Roger Amsden for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Taylor Community & 3 generations of family help Bessie Scudder celebrate 100th birthday

LACONIA — Surrounded by her son and daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren along with numerous friends, Bessie Scudder celebrated her 100th birthday at the Taylor Community yesterday.

Scudder was born in Yonkers, New York on August 18, 1915 and has forever remained a New Yorker, as Bob Selig, the chief executive officer of the Taylor Community discovered when he asked her if she were a Yankee fan. "Of course," she snapped with a smile. "I'm from New York."

After graduating from Roosevelt High School — named for Theodore, the 26th president, not Franklin, the 32nd — she went to work as a secretary at an automobile dealership until she married Orvis Victor Scudder in June, 1940. She was known for skill in the kitchen, especially her cookies, and with a needle — needlework, knitting, crocheting, quilting, needlepoint, and embroidery. She played the piano and taught Sunday School at the First Methodist Church in Hackensack, New Jersey and sang in the choir at the Taylor Community.

Noting her fondness for word puzzles, Selig recalled that once playing Charades she struggled for the word "sexy" as her partner writhed languorously in front of her. "I didn't know what she was doing," Scudder laughed. Selig remembered that Scudder led the prayer at breakfast each morning at 7:30 a.m. and, noting that no one has taken her place, wondered if she would come back. "No," she answered. "I'm stationary now." The Scudders lived in Pelham, New York, West Englewood and Oradell, New Jersey, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Summerfield, Florida and Roxbury, New York., But, in the summer, home was a cottage on the shore of Lake Kanasatka in Moultonborough. She has now lived in Laconia for a dozen years.

Scudder enjoyed traveling and site-seeing and when reminded of a favorite trip to Branson, Missouri, interrupted to recall a tour of the White Mountains where "we went up and up and the trees were down below and we were above the clouds. That was the best trip," she said.

Most of Scudder's two children, five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, drawn from Delaware to California, were on hand as Mayor Ed Engler proclaimed "Bessie Scudder Day " in the city and heard a letter read from Governor Maggie Hassan wishing her a happy birthday.