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Boys & Girls Club renovation project gets big boost with in-kind contributions from engineer, architect and construction manager

LACONIA — Three is a magic number, especially for the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region, whose efforts to acquire the former St. James Episcopal Church on North Main Street and to transform it into the club's "forever home" are getting a boost from a trio of local building professionals.
Founded in 1999, the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region has had four homes in its history but late in 2013 it launched a $2.4-million capital campaign with the goal of making the St. James campus the club's first real and permanent home.
The club is working to raise money to purchase the St. James property; to renovate 17,000-square-feet of interior space; and to establish an endowment fund.
Helping with the second element of the capital campaign are Steven J. Smith Sr., who is president of Steven J. Smith & Associates, a civil and sanitary engineering and land-surveying company; Peter L. Stewart, AIA, principal of Stewart Associates and Architects; and Chuck Moretti, a partner with NCM Management which provides construction management, value engineering, scheduling, and estimating services.
Smith, Stewart and Moretti are friends and colleagues and all have their offices at Six Lily Pond Road in Gilford. The men, said Al Posnack, who is chairman of the Boys and Girls Club's capital campaign, are also a godsend.
"The Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region is very grateful and thrilled to receive the in-kind donation of services by Steven, Peter, and Chuck," said Posnack. "Their skills are guiding us through every step of the process of us having, at last, a home that we can truly call our own."
In addition to assisting the club in getting settled at its current and several of its past homes, Posnack noted that Smith, Stewart, and Moretti have also been instrumental in remedying some of the damage recently caused by vandals to the club's facilities.
"We are humbled by the generosity of Steven, Peter and Chuck," Posnack summed up, "as we are by each donation, no matter how big or small, because every bit helps and is truly appreciated by us and, ultimately, by the kids."
Smith, who was raised in Conway, but who has called Laconia home since 1977, said that donating his professional services to the Boys and Girls Club is the right thing to do.
"You've got to give back to the community," said Smith, "especially if you have a business here." A member of the Gilford Rotary Club and of the WOW Trail board of directors, Smith said he was glad to help the Boys and Girls Club while also having the opportunity to collaborate with Stewart and Moretti.
In addition to several commercial and private projects in Gilford and Laconia that they've done together, Stewart and Moretti have been working with the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region for about six years. They previously combined their skills to help the club move to what were temporary homes in the former Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church in Lakeport, and most recently, in the former Federal Building in downtown Laconia.

Born in Boston, but raised in Laconia, Stewart comes from a family with deep, local civic roots; his father, the late Paul N. Stewart, was the chairman of the Laconia Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Under the elder Stewart's administration, the LHRA built the Sunrise Towers housing complex on Union Avenue, across the street from which, along the south bank of the Winnipesaukee River, sits a municipal park named after him.

Stewart the younger followed in his father's community-minded footsteps as a member of the Laconia Planning Board and of the board of directors of the Laconia Area Community Land Trust and Genesis Behavioral Health. Like Smith, Stewart said giving back to the city and towns that have sustained his business since 1994 is very important to him.
Moretti echoed that point and added that his company was involved with the Boys and Girls project because he and his business partner, Donald H. Roper, firmly believe in the club's mission and want the club to succeed.
"There is such a huge need in Laconia and in the Lakes Region for what the Boys and Girls Club does," said Moretti, a native of Rochester, NY who now calls Belmont home.
In its search for a "forever home," the Boys and Girls Club, Stewart pointed out, had considered properties in the North Main Street area but chose to keep looking. The club's gaze and attention, however, have correctly come back to St. James, said Stewart.
Located across the street from Smith Track and Opechee Park, and just a short distance from Laconia Middle School, the club's location now "is just perfect," Stewart said, and soon so, too, will be the new club itself.
To make a donation of in-kind services to the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region's capital campaign, contact the club at 528-0197. Financial contributions can be made online at www.lakeskids.org.


Cutline for attached photo:

The ongoing acquisition and transformation of the former St. James Episcopal Church on North Main Street in Laconia into the first permanent home of the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region is being made possible by the generosity of many people, among them Peter Stewart, right, Steve Smith, center, and Chuck Moretti, left. Each of the men, who all have offices in the same building on Lily Pond Road in Gilford, has donated their professional services to the club. (Courtesy photo)

Last Updated on Friday, 24 January 2014 01:46

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Hathaway House owner lambasted by city commission

LACONIA — "I'm the elephant in the room," Greg Nolan of Cafua Management Company, LLC, the Dunkin' Donuts franchisee that owns the Hathaway House, told more than three dozen residents at a public hearing convened by the Heritage Commission last night in an effort to spare the Victorian landmark from demolition. "I'm here to listen," he added.

He got an earful, beginning with Dorothy Duffy of the commission who recounted the company's failure to fulfill its repeated assurances to maintain, improve and preserve the building charged that "the owners of Dunkin' Donuts and the Hathaway House have lied to the citizens of Laconia for the last five years."

Charlie St. Clair, whose parents owned and operated a clothing store in the building, described developers like Cafua as "a plague of locusts," noting "in five years they'll be gone, but we'll still be here. They just don't care."

In November, Cafua formally applied for a demolition permit to raze the historic building. Since the Hathaway House is more than 700-square-feet in area and 75 or more years old, as well as visible from a public right-of-way, the application was presented to the Heritage Commission for review. The commission refused to endorse the application and scheduled the public hearing in an effort to preserve the building.
St. Clair claimed that although Cafua has offered the building for sale or lease the company has not responded to prospective buyers. Susan Hodgkins, a real estate agent representing an interested party, said that she began inquiring in October, but had not spoken to Nolan until last week and still has received no information about the property.
After a handful of speakers lamented the loss of many commercial and residential building of historic and architectural value in the city, Daylon Brock challenged the commission and the community to preserve the building by making viable use of it. "What are you going to do with the Hathaway House after you save it?" he asked. Noting that "the Lakeport Association paid $80,000 for a rusted boxcar," he said that the money would have served as a down payment on the Hathaway House. "Come up with a plan for it," he said.
"It's very nice to talk about the good old days," Brock continued, "but nobody wants to talk about the future. This is 2014." He said that he had heard "a lot of naive nostalgia for a lifestyle that has passed," conceding that perhaps those were better times, but reminding his listeners of "the relic to Jim Crow that stood in front of the Goss Reading Room."
Echoing an earlier speaker who cautioned the commission against charging Nolan with dishonesty, Maggie Stier of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance said that "confrontation will probably not move this process forward." Instead, she urged the commission to work with the owner to either put the historic building to some viable use or, failing that, transfer ownership to some organization or individual who would. "Give Dunkin' Donuts a graceful way to hand off the building," she said. "Try to come to a win-win situation."
The ordinance provides for the Heritage Commission to meet with the owner within 10 days to seek agreement on an alternative to razing the building. Without an agreement to preserve the building, the owner may proceed with demolition while the Heritage Commission, with the consent of the owner, can photograph and document the building as well as encourage the owner to salvage any of its important architectural features.

Following the hearing Pam Clark, who chairs the commission, and Nolan, who was accompanied by his attorney, were discussing how to proceed.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 04:28

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Belmont Crash sends one woman to LRGH

BELMONT — A woman was taken by ambulance to Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia after being involved in a head-on traffic accident on Route 106 early Wednesday evening.

The Belmont Fire Department described the unidentified woman's injuries as non-life-threatening.

According to a media release issued by the Fire Department, the accident occurred at 6 p.m. at the intersection of Route 106 and Peggy Drive. The accident forced the closing of Route 106 for a short time.

The woman who was taken to the hospital was the only occupant of a small gray vehicle which collided head-on with a mini van carrying two people. The occupants of the mini van — both women — suffered what authorities termed minor injuries. Both refused to be transported by ambulance to the hospital.

The small vehicle sustained heavy front-end damage and its air bag deployed. The mini van had damage to the the left-front and driver's side of the vehicle and rescue personnel had to force the driver's door open.

The Laconia Fire Department sent a second ambulance to the scene.




Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 02:08

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State law prohibits County Convention from holding meetings when legislature is in session

LACONIA — A law which prevents county conventions from holding meetings in their home communities on days in which the state legislature is in session could impact a number of upcoming budget review meetings planned by the Belknap County Convention for next month.
''They can't meet here on days in which they meet in Concord,'' County Administrator Debra Shackett told Belknap County Commissioners Wednesday morning. She said that effectively limits the convention to Monday and Friday meetings when the legislature is in session.
Shackett said commissioners had been asked to seek a legal opinion from Attorney Paul Fitzgerald over the statute and he had ruled that there were no exceptions which would permit meetings to be held and that he would put his opinion on writing for the convention.
Fitzgerald was also asked to rule by Convention Chairperson Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) on whether the same 10-day notice period on public meetings that applies to the convention as a whole also applies to subcommittees. Shackett said that he had ruled that the same notice period applies.
The County Convention, which is made up of all the members of the state legislature from Belknap County, controls the appropriations for county government functions.
The convention is in the midst of its review of the 2014 budget proposed by the commissioners and is scheduled to hold a series of four meetings as a committee of the whole, including ones on Wednesday, February 5 and Tuesday, February 11, both of which may need to be rescheduled.
''Hopefully it can be changed,'' Shackett said of the restrictions on meeting dates, saying that it would be difficult for the public and county staff to participate if the convention held meetings in Concord on those days.
In other action the commissioners agreed to award a contract for replacement of the 28-year-old pneumatic control system in the newest part of the Belknap County Jail to Pro Controls of Bow for $56,350. Facilities manager Dustin Muzzey recommended the firm over Control Technologies of Manchester, which had submitted a bid of $58,980. The system is being replaced due to age and condition which make it difficult to regulate temperature and air quality within the facility.
The firm will remove and replace all of the pneumatic control devices and tubing in the 1986 jail addition and install a web enabled controller and replace all pneumatic dampers, control valves and valve actuators with electronic modulating actuators.
The commission approved County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbrandsen's request to hire Adam Woods as a new Assistant County Attorney. Woods currently works as a part-time prosecutor in the Cheshire County Attorney's Office and lives in Concord.
They also approved a grant from the New Hampshire Department of Justice for a grant under the Violence Against Women Act for the Belknap County Attorney's Office which will continue to devote a three-quarter time prosecutor to cases of violence against women.
Deputy Attorney Carley Ahern will serve in that position with three quarters of her $73,398 annual pay ($55,049) paid for that position. The $30,000 in federal funds will be matched by $29,639 in local funds, which include pay and benefits.
Shackett also reported to commissioners that the the attorney representing the commission in its dispute over budget authority with the County Convention, which authorized legal action against the commission, has had contact with the attorney representing the convention to inquire if legal action was pending.
''Attorney Horan told him that he hasn't had any contact with the Convention Chairperson Rep. Worsman in over a month,'' Shackett said.
That prompted Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith) to observe ''in other words they still have no idea what they're doing.''

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 02:42

Hits: 313

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