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City Council approves measure to re-structure Downtown TIF Advisory Board

LACONIA — Following a public hearing last night the City Council unanimously approved a proposal to restructure the Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Board.
Established in 2009 when the downtown TIF district was formed, the board advises the council about how to invest the funds accruing to the TIF fund. Originally it consisted of five members, appointed by the council for unspecified terms, the majority of whom must be owners or occupants of property within the TIF district.
Currently two members of the board are city officials, Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Dunleavy and City Planner Shanna Saunders.
The change will make those holding those positions ex-officio, non-voting members of the board, and provides that all five board members must either own property, reside within or own, manage or represent a business in the district. Moreover, at least three members, a majority of the board, must be residents of the city.
The change also provides for an expiration date of those serving on the board and provides that the five members serve staggered terms of three years apiece. Initially two members will be appointed to three-year terms and two members to two-year terms with the fifth member serving a one-year term.
John Moriarty of the Laconia Main Street Initiative said that the downtown stakeholders support the change and singled out Dunleavy for having done ''an outstanding job.''
''This will allow two additional citizens the opportunity to serve on the board,'' said Moriarty.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 01:15

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Council approves funds for business park recreational trail design

LACONIA — The City Council last night approved by a 5-1 vote a contract with Fluet Engineering Associates of Laconia to further the design of a recreational trail system within the Lakes Business Park, which is a joint venture undertaken by the city of Laconia and Town of Gilford.

The $11,710 to fund the work will be drawn from the Lakes Business Park Phase II Capital Replacement Trust Fund, which has an estimated balance of nearly $327,000. Fluet Engineering will prepare plans of the existing trail network, two stream crossings, including a pedestrian bridge over Jewett Brook and a parking lot near the entrance to the park on Gilford Avenue. The Lakes Business Park Board of Directors has indicated that its intent is to take "a minimalist approach" to construction, which will not include pavement.

When the business park was originally established it was anticipated that bicycle and pedestrian paths would be built in the common areas for "the use and enjoyment of the general public." In 2005, when the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services granted the permit for the roadway entering the park across Jewett Brook, a conservation easement of 44 acres was created and stream crossings for a pedestrian path were permitted. The easement recognized the right of the Lakes Business Park Board of Directors "to construct, maintain, repair and reconstruct recreational trails within the easement area for walking and hiking by the public."

Originally a budget of $151,000 was designated for construction of the trails. However, in a memorandum to the Gilford Board of Selectmen and Laconia City Council Scott Dunn, the Gilford Town Administrator, said that for reasons unknown the funds are no longer available. Dunn went on to note that recently the Gilford Conservation Commission has urged him to pursue construction of the trail system. He said that he was was seeking funding from the New Hampshire Recreational Trail Program and explained that an engineered design and cost estimate would strengthen applications for funding.
Mayor Ed Engler said that Fluet had produced the original design plan for the trail system 10 years ago and was chosen for re design because he still had the original trail system designs.
Ward 5 Councilor Bob Hamel, who ended up casting the only vote against the proposal, said that he was concerned over the $151,000 price tag and questioned who would take care of the trail system if it were built.
Ward 4 Councilor Brenda Baer said that the idea that the trail system was going to be paved had been dropped and pointed out that the funds which would pay for the engineering work ''is not city money, not taxpayer money'' and comes from a maintenance fund for the park.
Engler said that all of the property on which the trail system wold be built is located in Gilford and it would be the responsibility of the Gilford Parks and Recreation Department to manage and maintain the trails.
Ward 1 Councilor Henry Lipman said that while the business park had not developed as quickly as had been hoped and he would be reluctant if it were being built today to support a trail system he felt that the city should live up to the intent of the original agreement and support development of the trail system.
''If we were starting from scratch, I wouldn't do this. We should do the right thing and and do what we said we would do. It's a matter of integrity,'' said Lipman.
Ward 2 Councilor David Bownes wondered if the design which Fluet produces would be implemented and Engler said that it was his understanding that further development would be contingent on Gilford applying for and receiving grants.
Gilford Town Administrator Scott Dunn, in a letter to the city council outlining the project, wrote that he was hopeful that the town would obtain grant funding from the NH Recreational Trail Program in 2015 for the project.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 01:32

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Police & fire chief agree, 91st Bike Week was safe and calm

LACONIA — Although most said the crowds were smaller and the bikers older than in past years, the 91st running of the oldest motorcycle rally in the country was marked by splendid weather, great riding and few casualties.

"One dead and three serious," said Fire Chief Ken Erickson. "That is a great Bike Week."

Police Chief Chris Adams said that officers made 95 arrests throughout the city during the week, almost twice the number of last year. However, he noted that 45 of those arrested were taken into protective custody for being intoxicated and apart from "a handful of assaults there was nothing serious. From my perspective it was definitely a success," he said.

Noting that the department's call volume for the month of June is tracking the average for the past four years, Erickson said during the rally the number of both serious and nuisance calls was "remarkably, shockingly low." He recalled the most demanding moment fell on the afternoon of the second Saturday when, at one and the same time, firefighters responded to a fire aboard a boat in Paugus Bay and a fire in a chimney in the downtown. "We had to bring the crew from The Weirs to cover Central Station," Erickson said.

Erickson said that the weather drew large crowds throughout the week and particularly on the last Saturday. But, he noted that the traffic was dispersed, explaining that the loop, which once covered the four miles from the Weirs Beach sign down Lakeside Avenue to Scenic Road along Watson Road to Routet 3 and back, now stretches to Meredith, a distance of 14 miles. "The traffic was heaviest on north side, toward Meredith," he said.

"It is still a big, a really big, event," Erickson said, "but it's more spread out and less congested than ever."

"I never sat in traffic," Adams said, adding that the Weirs Channel Bridge was never closed to four-wheel traffic to relieve congestion. He sensed that the crowds fell short of the numbers of past years, remarking that he was surprised to find empty parking spaces on Lakeside Avenue at 9:30 p.m. on the closing night of the rally.

Erickson observed that while there was capacity for 15,000 people at the licensed premisses at The Weirs, the numbers in the beer tents were sparse. "people don't come here to drink beer," he said. "They come here to ride."

Last Updated on Monday, 23 June 2014 11:29

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Pembrook man charged with lying to Belmont officer, driving after being declared an habitual offender

BELMONT — A Pembrook man was released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail after giving a police officer a false name after being stopped for speeding on Route 3.

Police affidavits said Troy Zanis, 39, was driving about 49 in a 35 m.p.h. zone at 1:22 a.m. Sunday.

He is charged with one misdemeanor count of disobeying an officer for allegedly lying and one felony count of driving after being determined a habitual offender.

He told the officer he had no identification because he left everything at home.

When asked him name and birth date, Zanis allegedly said said he was "Theodore Zanis" and his birthday was September 6, 1969. The officer noticed he was looking into the sky and when he was asked about it, Zanis told him he was dyslexic.

When the officer asked him how old he was, he said he was 41, which would be the age of someone born in either 1973 or 1974.

When Zanis was asked his social security number, he allegedly admitted that he had been determined to be an habitual offender and that he hadn't had a drivers license in a long time.

When the officer ran his corrected name and date of birth, he learned Zanis was indeed an habitual offender and that he had five warrants out of the Merrimack County Sheriff's Department.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 12:29

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