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WOW Trail to benefit from attendance at tonight's Muskrats game

LACONIA — It's WOW Trail Wednesday at the Muskrats game tonight! Laconia will play Keene at Robbie Mills Field, starting at 6:30 p.m.

The WOW Trail is a paved, multi-use recreational trail, built alongside the active railroad bed in the City of Laconia. Presently 1.3 miles long, the Trail spans from Elm Street in Lakeport to North Main Street near Downtown Laconia. 41,000 people currently use the Trail annually.
Design and fundraising is currently underway to extend the Trail another 1.1 miles from North Main Street to the Belmont town line. When completed, the WOW Trail will connect the Laconia communities of Weirs Beach and Lakeport with Downtown via a safe and convenient passageway, all while providing outstanding scenic and recreation opportunities.

The WOW Trail is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization dedicated to building and maintaining a nine- mile recreational path through the City of Laconia as a part of the regional Winnipesaukee Trail network that will connect Meredith to Franklin. For more information, please visit: www.wowtrail.org.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 03:21

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Correction: Gilford has taken no action on Kimball Castle

GILFORD — The company that owns Kimball Castle has submitted a draft legal pleading that would have the town in its capacity as trustee of the Kimball Castle Trust ask Superior Court to alter the terms of the trust and allow the company to tear it down.

On yesterday's front page, The Daily Sun ran an incorrect story that said the town has already filed the pleading in Belknap County Superior Court and that is not the case. Rather, the Selectboard has announced it will hold a public hearing on the matter at Town Hall on August 14.

Late Monday afternoon, town officials directed an e-mail "blast" relative to the Kimball Castle to subscribers that featured an announcement of the pubic hearing. Attached were legal documents The Daily Sun mistook for papers the town had already filed with the court. Town Administrator Scott Dunn said on Tuesday, they were "draft" legal documents prepared by attorneys for Kimball Castle Properties, LLC that have been submitted to the town for review and consideration.

The draft "cy pres" pleading would have the town, as trustee, tell the court that Kimball Castle Properties, LLC would continue to provide public access to the 220 acre lot but the company should be allowed to tear the castle down because the original terms of the deed restrictions cannot be met.

Cy pres means "next to" and in law it means that this is the next closest solution because original deed restrictions as the typically apply to gifts and charitable donations cannot be met.

According to the draft pleading, the conditions of the deed restrictions of the charitable trust cannot be met because Kimball Castle Properties, LLC was never able to raise the capital needed to restore the historic structure to a restaurant and lounge. The town's building inspector has condemned the property, which has deteriorated significantly because of weather and vandalism, and ordered the owner to tear it down or install a fence surrounding it to reasonably prevent access.

The first cy pres change to the original charitable donation was made in 1999 when the court allowed the property to be sold to a private party, Historic Inns of New England, LP. The owner of Kimball Castle Properties, LLC is one of the original owners of the limited partnership.

The first change provided the money from the sale be used to maintain most of the property for wildlife observation and recreation trails.

Should the court grant the pleadings in the owner's suggested language, the area will remain open to wildlife observation, emergency access, and recreation, however it may not be subdivided and will be limited to a single family residence.
In an e-mail sent to The Daily Sun, Dunn said the selectmen, in their official capacity as trustees, have not reviewed the suggested pleading. And, to the best of his knowledge, the office of the Attorney General, Division of Charitable Trusts has not reviewed it either.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 02:15

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House to be sold to benefit Children's Auction taking shape

LACONIA — A home which is being built by local builders to benefit the WLNH Children's Auction is rapidly taking shape in the Windermere Ridge development off from Parade Road.
Crews from Hayward and Company Log and Timber Homes have completely framed and roofed what will become a 2,200-square-foot, three bedroom home on Turner Way which will go on the market this fall as the featured property in the 2013 Lakes Region Parade of Homes.
The project is being undertaken by the Lakes Region Builders and Remodelers Association (LRBRA) with the proceeds from the sale going to the 32nd annual auction in December.
''We're making good progress and getting a lot of contributions of time, materials and efforts from our members,'' said Bob Glassett of Pella Windows and Doors, treasurer of the LRBRA, who supervised as members of the association and the Children's Auction board of directors showed up Tuesday afternoon to help clean up the construction site.
He said that Mike Hayward of Hayward Construction volunteered to serve as general contractor for the project which recently had excavation work donated by JF Kimball Excavation LLC and the foundation poured by Southern NH Concrete. Quality Insulation then sealed and insulated the foundation and a large crew from Hayward framed and roofed the house.
Glassett said that from now until the house is completed, every Tuesday afternoon will be a work session for volunteers from the Children's Auction board of directors and members of the association,
He said that he's impressed with the enthusiasm shown for the project and is currently looking for a paving contractor to volunteer to do the access road and parking area.
Dale Squires, executive director of the LRBRA, said that dozens of local firms have pitched in on the project, the most ambitious ever undertaken by the group.
''Harris Family Furniture is completely furnishing the home, so that whoever buys it can move in the day they close on the property,'' said Squires, who said that Baron's Major Brands is supplying appliances.
He said that others who have contributed include, Morin Electric, which will wire the home; Pella Windows and Doors; F.W. Webb; Middleton Lumber; New Hampshire Hardwoods; and Gilford Well; along with several builders and craftsmen — Mask Construction, Twin Oaks Construction, Alan Mann Home Improvements, K.A. Clason Fine Woodworking and Custance Brothers Woodworking.
Known as the Children's Charity House, the home will be marketed for sale by RE/MAX Bayside Realty starting in early fall and will be opened to the public on Columbus Day weekend.
''We're sure that a lot of people are going to be interested in the quality of the materials and workmanship that are going into this home,'' said Squires.
''It's going to have the very best in artwork and furniture and be beautifully landscaped,'' said Squires.
The association purchased the two-acre lot in the Windermere Ridge subdivision at a discounted price and Franklin Savings Bank is financing the purchase of the lot and construction of the house.
Laconia Mayor Michael Seymour, who is a member of the board of directors of the Children's Auction, said that he is tremendously impressed by the support the local builders group has gained for the project and the generosity of businesses which are making donations or providing materials and furnishings at deep discounts.
''It's really an awesome project,'' said Seymour.

Ed Darling, Children's Auction volunteer for 30 years, Laconia Mayor Michael Seymour and Molly King of 98.3 WLNH, help clean up the construction site of the Children's Auction Charity House which is being built in the Windermere Ridge development off from Parade Road in Laconia. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)


Last Updated on Friday, 30 August 2013 08:41

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Affordable apartment site once viewed as potential waterfront gem

LACONIA — The prospect of the Laconia Community Area Land Trust (LACLT) constructing affordable apartments on a lot tucked between Union Ave. and the Winnipesaukee River once occupied by a wholesale plumbing and heating supply company, F.W. Webb, does not match the vision city officials had for the property when it last changed hands in 2007. Then, the property was seen as a great location for a classy, waterfront, mixed-use development that would be a shot in the arm for the city's downtown.
Linda Harvey, executive director of the LACLT, said yesterday that although plans have been submitted to the Planning Department, the trust is still in the process of performing due diligence on the property and negotiating a purchase and sales agreement. She anticipates presenting a proposal to the Planning Board in August.
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.
The property is is the city's Downtown Riverfront District, created "to provide opportunities, incentives and requirements to acknowledge and respect the Winnipesaukee River" and described by the zoning ordinance as "a focal point in the city's history and heritage," which should be "a critical factor in any redevelopment within the district."
The Master Plan, adopted in 2007, lists the riverfront among the city's prime assets and includes among its goals the economic development of the waterfront among its goals.
That same year F.W. Webb constructed a new facility in the Lakes Business Park and the property was purchased by Cecil and Deborah Baldwin of Tuscon, Arizona, who anticipated rehabilitating the mill to match those across the river. They were intrigued with a conceptual design for the site prepared the year before following a charette hosted by Laconia Main Street.
The plan featured the mill, restored to offer space for a restaurant and shops on the lower level and condominium units above, as a destination along a riverwalk between the Main Street and Church Street bridges. The smaller building would be used for retail or office space, though some suggested that it be demolished and replaced with a new structure. The project was conceived in conjunction with the riverwalk. An earlier design showed a boardwalk between footbridge and Arch Street passing an outdoor dining terrace at the restored mill.
But, since then the property has sat empty and untouched. Harvey said that Planning Director Shanna Saunders asked her if the LACLT would have any interest in redeveloping the site. Saunders said that she probably included it among several properties that have lain fallow for years and is "thrilled to see the LACLT redeveloping it." She said that the trust builds to high standards as well as maintains its properties and manages its tenants. She referred to Mill View, the LACLT's residential complex across Union Avenue, as a significant asset to the neighborhood.
Saunders acknowledged that an apartment building does not conform to the original vision for the site, but said that market forces failed to lead to the redevelopment of the property. "It simply isn't happening," she said, "and we have to move on. That building has sat there deteriorating since before I started work here nearly 10 years ago."
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." The building will house 12 one-bedroom units, each 675-square-feet and 20 two-bedroom units of 864-square-feet. A parking lot with an entrance at the corner of Arch Street and River Street will have spaces for 30 vehicles and two smaller lots along Union Avenue will have another 18 spaces. The lower level will be faced with brick and the upper levels with vinyl siding. The riverfront will be landscaped and include walkways designed to accommodate the downtown riverwalk, which the city plans to construct along both banks of the river.
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.
David Stamps, who contributed to the original conceptual plan for the property, enthusiastically welcomed the LACLT's proposal. "I'm not at all disappointed," he said. "This area needs affordable housing and I am a big supporter of the LACLT. The market determined that the property could not be developed as we envisioned," he continued. "This is an excellent alternative."
But, Harry Bean of Gilford, who owns 76 rental units in the neighborhood, believes that the LACLT, which finances its projects with a mix of grants and low-interest loans, represents unfair competition to private landlords. He said that his two-bedroom units with heat and hot water rent for $802 a month, just as they did 30 years ago. Meanwhile, property taxes, insurance coverage and fuel costs have risen significantly. He claims that with such slender margins, private landlords cannot afford to invest in the improving their properties.
Moreover, Bean doubts that the city lacks a sufficient inventory of affordable units. "There is absolutely no demand for more affordable housing," he said, estimating that between empty units and delinquent tenants vacancy rates stand near 10 percent. Instead, he said adding to the supply decreases the demand, which leads to either lower rents or more vacancies.
Adding to the stock of affordable units, Bean believes, will simply attract more low-income residents. "Build it and they will come," he remarked. "Condos wouldn't be bad thing there. A restaurant with retail shops would be better."
Bean said that he has expressed his misgivings about the proposed apartment project to Mayor Mike Seymour as well as City Councilors Brenda Baer (Ward 4) and Armand Bolduc (Ward 6).

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 February 2014 07:36

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