Belmont Mill eligible for state registry but selectmen wary

BELMONT — Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin told selectmen last night that the town received notice that the Belmont Mill was eligible for the state historic registry.

She said the decision came as the result of an inventory of the mill submitted to the state by the town's Heritage Commission.

"Would the board like to agree to list it or not?" she asked.

The mill has been a bit of a sore spot for selectmen since the voters overwhelmingly rejected a $3.1-million restoration project last March that would have relocated the town offices and put the edifice in good shape for the next 50 years.

Unable to restore it without town meeting approval and with the fourth floor unusable in its current condition, the town is stuck. In order to fix the fourth floor, the third floor would have to be vacated. Right now, the Belknap Family Care Center — an arm of LRGHealthcare of Laconia– occupies the third floor. LRGH has told the town it won't move temporarily, meaning fixing the fourth floor means loosing the highest paying tenant.

The ground floor hosts the senior center and a day care which is moving to bigger quarters in a different part of Belmont. The Department of Parks and Recreation has its offices on the second floor.

Selectman Ron Cormier said that it's a state historic registry and "really doesn't mean that much." He explained that if there was a change to the mill that was significant the consequences would be to remove it from the registry.

Selectman Jon Pike said he was in favor of listing it but Selectman's Chair Ruth Mooney and Cormier said they wanted more information before agreeing to add it to the registry.

Beaudin said that if the town still owns it and remains a landlord, being on the registry could benefit it in getting federal or state grants.

Meredith chief says few fireworks displays are properly permitted

MEREDITH — Speaking to the Board of Selectmen at a workshop yesterday, Fire Chief Ken Jones expressed concern that despite a town ordinance requiring a permit to display fireworks, the number of applications filed and permits granted fall far short of the number of fireworks displays.

Town Manager Phil Warren added that persons displaying fireworks without a permit are liable to a charge of disorderly conduct, which carries a fine of not less than $50 or more than $1,000 depending on the nature of the offense.

Jones said that most residents, including what he estimated to be about a third of his department's firefighters, were unaware that permits are required. He explained that applications should be filed 15 days before the display, but conceded "this rarely occurs". Jones estimated the department receives between 20 and 30 applications.

Both Jones and Warren noted that because the state permits the purchase and possession of fireworks while cities and towns may prohibit or regulate their use, it is not surprising that people, particularly visitors, assume that what can be bought can also be displayed. Fireworks dealers, Jones pointed out, are obliged to inform customers of municipalities that either prohibit or regulate fireworks, but doubted this requirement is effective.

Although the application is is somewhat perfunctory, Jones said that he asks applicants to sketch a map of the property indicating tree lines, public utilities and nearby structures as well as the exact location where the fireworks will be displayed. Jones said that in some cases he visits the property to ensure that fireworks can be displayed safely. "We've had some complaints over the past several years," Jones said, adding that many of them were raised by people lighting fireworks "later than they should." He said that he was especially concerned about the use of fireworks in the densely developed parts of town.

Jones said "I have no recommendation at this time" and Warren added that "our goal here is education."

Chapin Terrace rises to top of street reconstruction list

LACONIA — After going without repairs or improvements for several decades, Chapin Terrace, a residential street which runs along the eastern shore of Lake Opechee in Lakeport, will be entirely reconstructed this year.

Paul Moynihan, Director of Public Works, said yesterday that work is scheduled to begin in the next week or ten days and be completed in September.

Chapin Terrace begins at the junction of School Street and Franklin Street then bends to parallel Franklin Street before coming to an end where an unimproved track connects to Franklin Street at the foot of Bell Street. Chapin Terrace is approximately a half-mile long and lined on either side by 21 homes.

Moynihan said that the Laconia Water Works will begin improvements by installing a new water main, a project expected to be finished in three weeks. The Busby Construction Company, Inc. will then make improvements to the stormwater drainage system and completely rebuild the roadway.

The project is estimated to cost approximately $305,000, with the rebuilding of the road representing about half the total and the water main costing $80,000 and the drainage improvements $70,000. Moynihan noted that the sanitary sewer system, together with a pump station, on Chapin Terrace were built in 1988 and remain in "very good condition."

Rick Woodward has lived on Chapin Terrace his entire life, since his father built what was then the third home on the street in 1949. "This road was dirt until they put the sewer in when they tarred the road." He said he could not recall any improvements in the past 30 years or more. Woodward said that he has spoken to city officials about the condition of the road and was pleased to learn that it will be reconstructed. "They walked around today putting notices on the doors that we'd be on a temporary water supply," he said.

Chapin Terrace is among 26 miles of the 82 miles of paved roadway in the city rated in "fair" to "poor" condition.

Moynihan said that the unpaved track at the north end of Chapin Terrace is a not "an approved city roadway" and will not be improved. He said that there are no residences on the track, but it is used to return to Franklin Street when plowing and sanding Chapin Terrace.

Woodward said that the track is a public right-of-way, recalling that the issue was settled some years ago. "The snow plows use it, dump trucks use it and the trash trucks use it," he said.