Traffic signal plan brought to Meredith

MEREDITH — The Board of Selectmen appear to prefer installing a signal between Lake Street and Dover Street to manage pedestrian crossings of US Route 3 among three options the state Department of Transportation presented at a workshop this week.

In August, after residents roundly rejected a proposal to string three roundabouts along the US Route 3/NH Route 25 corridor, the selectmen asked DOT for a proposal for coordinated signalization to improve the flow of both traffic and pedestrians. This week, the department returned with suggestions to install pedestrian signals at Dover Street, at both Dover Street and Lakes Street or between the two.

Counts taken at the US Route3/NH Route25 intersection, Dover Street and Lake Street in August indicated that pedestrian traffic was heaviest at Dover Street, where 275 people crossed during a peak hour on Sunday. Fewer than 100 pedestrians crossed at the other locations at peak times. Managing pedestrian traffic has been a recurrent theme of the discussion about easing congestion along the corridor since talks began in 2004.

All three options would include what Gene McCarthy of McFarland Johnson Inc., the project manager, called "adaptive signal control" at the US Route3/NH Route25 intersection. He said the equipment that controls the signal at the intersection would not only optimize the flow of traffic through it, but would also manage whatever system of pedestrian signals is chosen. In particular, he said the system could handle vehicles passing through the intersection along with a signal controlling pedestrians crossing US Route 3 and do so continuously in real time as the volume of traffic and number of pedestrians traffic changes.

Likewise, all three options would reduce the number of northbound lanes on US Route 3 and widen the two southbound lanes at the intersection with NH Route 25. McCarthy explained that reconfiguring the intersection would ease the left-hand turn for westbound traffic on NH Route 25, especially for trucks.

McCarthy told the selectmen that designated pedestrian crossings should not be located at intersections. Moreover, he noted that pedestrian crossings at Lake Street and Dover Street would also be in line with the entrance to and exit from the parking lot at the town dock.

Initially, the state had allocated approximately $6 million to address congestion through corridor. However, after the town soundly rejected a proposal to construct three single-lane roundabouts at Lake Street, the US Route 3/NH Route 25 intersection and Pleasant Street, the funds were assigned to other projects, leaving $1.75 million for Meredith.
The selectmen plan to place the options on the agenda of a future board meeting with an eye to holding a public hearing in the new year.

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Belknap House secures place for family shelter

LACONIA —By next winter, homeless families may be able to find shelter, as a purchase-and-sales agreement has been entered into for the sprawling white home at 200 Court St.

Belknap House President Colleen Garrity said she hopes the shelter can open on Oct. 1.

She said a  group of interested citizens and nonprofit agencies met regularly during the past few years came up with the idea of the Belknap House because over the past five years the number of homeless families has risen dramatically.

Right now, the only place for homeless families is the Carey House, which is operated by the Salvation Army. There is room in the Carey House for only three families, leaving the rest few options in the Lakes Region.

Garrity said the group has reached out to a number of local banks and other lenders in a search for grants and/or loans that would help them raise the $250,000 needed for the purchase of the house and for the necessary safety upgrades that would be needed.

She said a sprinkler system must be installed, the building needs a kitchen and the bathrooms need renovating.

Garrity added the building must be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. She said the home must have 200 square feet per person, meaning that it can house up to 19 people at one time.

There are also a number of fundraisers ongoing – the biggest one being an effort to raise $25,000 to match a gift in that amount from an anonymous donor. A handcrafted pendant designed and made by a local jeweler is being raffled off. Tickets can be bought at The Studio on Canal Street or at St. Andre Bessette Church offices.

The agency is also raising money by selling Christmas trees in the lot next to Coldwell Banker Realty on Court Street. She said the trees are fresh, and grown and harvested by a Colebrook farmer whose trees grow both in New Hampshire and Vermont.

"We are very excited and are getting a lot of community recognition," Garrity said.

CUTLINE ( Belknap House) This house has recently been placed under a purchase and sale agreement with the Belknap House - a local non-for-profit that plans on creating a winter shelter for homeless families. (Laconia Daily Sun Photo – Gail Ober)

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Children's Auction wraps up Saturday

LACONIA — The 33rd annual Children’s Auction will wrap up at 1 p.m. Saturday, with the final day being highlighted by the announcement of the Pub Mania contribution, which is expected to take place sometime after 11 a.m.
Last year, the auction raised $486,575 to be distributed to local not-for-profit agencies, the second-highest total ever recorded. Nearly half of that amount, $235,596, came from Pub Mania.
Now in its seventh year, Pub Mania had raised $797,000 in its first six years and is looking to top the million-dollar mark by raising at least $203,000 this year.
Mike Seymour, chairman of the board of trustees of the Greater Lakes Region Charitable Fund for Children, a nonprofit corporation which earlier this year took over ownership of the auction, said that over the last five years Pub Mania has raised nearly 40 percent of the $2 million raised by the Children’s Auction.
Among the volunteers working at the auction headquarters at the Opechee Conference Center is former Gilford Police Chief John Markland, who says he’s been a volunteer for about 15 years.
“When I first started, the auction was being held at Laconia Country Club,” Markland recalled, adding that he got involved after seeing the toll that crime took on children and families.
“In my old line of work, you dealt with what society did not want to see, and saw the need so many children had. I got involved with the auction to try and do something positive,” said Markland.
He said it is heartening to see the depth of involvement with the Children’s Auction all across the Lakes Region. “It makes it the kind of community you’re proud to be a part of and the work that people do on behalf of the auction epitomizes why we live here. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”
Another volunteer is Mark Bartholomew, said that he and his wife, Janet, have been volunteering for 10 years and were recruited by the late Doris Makely, a long-time auction volunteer who was honored three year ago by having a scholarship named in her honor.
“We really enjoy working here, and being a part of the community,” said Bartholomew.

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