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Phase II of WOW Trail gets Planning Board OK

LACONIA — The Planning Board has agreed to recommend the plan for the second phase of the Winnipesaukee-Opechee-Winnisquam (WOW) Trail to the City Council for approval.

Two of the board's members -- Bill Contardo and Jay Tivnan -- dissented from the board's position. Cantardo lives in South Down Shores, and Tivnan is a resident of Long Bay. The third phase of the WOW trail is planned to pass through both condominium communities, along the western shore of Paugus Bay. Residents there have voiced opposition to the route, proposed alternative routes and contributed to a legal fund to challenge construction of the third phase of the trail.

Warren Hutchins, chairman of the Planning Board, explained that since the WOW Trail is a municipal project, it does not require the approval of the board, but was presented as a courtesy.

Jay Poulan of HEB Engineering Inc. of North Conway, explained to the board this week that the second phase begins at the Laconia Public Library and runs to the Belmont town line, where it joins a paved path. For most of its 5,000 feet the trail will be built within the railroad right-of-way. He said that there would be two sections of boardwalk outside the railroad right-of-way to cross wetlands near Bartlett Beach and a bridge would be built to cross Durkee Brook.

Two property owners raised objections to the route. Jeff Joyce of 361 Court St., spoke for himself and his father, who owns the property next door at 373 Court St. The two properties are the westernmost private lots within the city on the north side of Court Street.

Joyce said that the commercial building at 373 Court St. actually encroaches into the railroad right-of-way. He said that the trail, together with the chain link fence required by the Bureau of Rails of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT), would obscure the view of the lake from both properties and impair their value. Moreover, he was concerned about how construction of the trail would add to stormwater run-off on to both lots. Finally, he feared that the trail would attract undesirable elements, who already walk back and forth between Laconia and Belmont along this route, which is often strewn with litter of all sorts.

Poulan said while the trail would run close to the two properties neither would be affected by the drainage, which would be designed to carry stormwater toward the lake. Alan Beetle, president of the WOW Trail, said that fears of loitering and vandalism are misplaced, recalling that residents of Moulton Street expressed the same concerns when the first phase of the trail was designed. He said that as more and more people used and maintained the trail the problems residents anticipated diminished.

Robert Dupont, who owns half-a-dozen properties further east on Court Street, including a lot with more than 300 feet bordering the railroad right-of-way and a scrap of shorefront just west of the outlet of Durkee Brook, also objected to proximity of the trail to his property. Like Joyce, he took special exception to the chain link fence. He suggested routing the trail through Keasor Court and along Court Street, offering donate land to facilitate an alternative route.

City Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2), the council's representative on the Planning Board, said that while he was reluctant to change the route of the trail, he recognized that the requirement of chain link fencing along its route was a legitimate concern of abutting property owners. At his initiative the board agreed to urge the City Council to press the DOT to substitute the chain link fence with more aesthetic fencing like a split rails, particularly where the trail is adjacent to residential properties.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 April 2015 10:20

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'Coffee with a Cop' program in Laconia starts on April 20

LACONIA – My Coffee Shop owner John Morin said yesterday his restaurant will be hosting the first Coffee with a Cop community meeting on Monday, April 20, from 9 to 10 a.m.

During that time, Police Chief Christopher Adams and Sgt. Gary Hubbard will be available to talk to and answer questions from area residents about policing, particular problems they have in their neighborhood, and how they can help police make their neighborhoods safer.

"It is a simple concept," said Adams. "Police and community members come together in an informal, neutral space to discuss community issues, build relationships and drink coffee."

The Coffee with a Cop program was announced at a Police Commission meeting at the beginning of this year as one of the department's goals for 2015.

As a outreach tool to the community, the program has been used successfully by police departments across the nation to remove the physical barriers and crisis situations that can typically define the relationship between the police department and its citizens.

"Instead it allows for relaxed, informal, one-on-one interactions in a friendly atmosphere," said Adams.

Coffee with a Cop and programs like it are being used by other local police departments. Belmont Police Chief Mark Lewandoski has been going to various neighborhoods for years and talking to residents and Gilford Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee has begun his department's program with a coffee session at the Gilford Library.

My Coffee Shop is located at the intersection of Court and Academy streets.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 April 2015 01:25

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Two men indicted for burglary in Gilmanton

GILMANTON — A Belknap County grand jury has indicted two men for allegedly burglarizing an Allens Mill Road and stealing a number of items including four firearms.

Heath Wilkins, 33, formerly of Concord, faces one count of burglary and four counts of theft of a firearm.

Jeromy Woodey, 32, of Pearl Street in Laconia faces one count of burglary.

Police Chief Joe Collins said the two were literally caught red-handed by one of hisl officers who was on routine patrol around 11 p.m. on March 20 when he saw a pickup truck parked but still running on Allens Mill Road.

Collins said the officer walked around the pickup and saw four firearms and a compressor on the ground near the truck. He said he saw other items that had already been loaded into the pickup.

He said the home was occupied but there was no one home the night of the burglary.

The officer secured the firearms and walked around the garage and saw Woodey, whom he arrested at gunpoint. Once Woodey was in custody, Wilkins allegedly fled into the woods.

Collins said other officers from Gilmanton and Belmont, including a K-9, searched the woods for Wilkins but were unable to find him. Collins said he alerted nearby police departments.

He said he learned that Wilkins got a ride from Gilmanton to Laconia where he tried to go to Woodey's parent's home but was told by them to leave.

He said Wilkins was "freezing" so around 3 a.m. he went to the Laconia Police Station where he asked officers if he could sit in their lobby while he warmed himself. Laconia officers had already been notified by Gilmanton Police about Wilkins.

"Well of course they invited him in," said Collins, who said he went down later to pick up Wilkins for booking purposes.

Collins said the two were charged and held on cash bail originally, but have both been bailed since their arrest.

Both will be scheduled for arraignment in Belknap County Superior Court within the next few weeks.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 April 2015 01:18

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D’Angelo’s alleged robber, accomplice indicted

LACONIA — A Belknap County grand jury has indicted a Plymouth man and a Laconia woman for their alleged respective roles on Dec. 13, 2014, in the unarmed robbery of D'Angelo's Restaurant on Union Avenue.

Brian Moore, 35, of Plymouth is facing one felony count of robbery for using physical force to overcome an employee who exited a rear door to take out the garbage. Police contend that he entered the store through that door and robbed it.

Moore is also charged with one felony count of witness tampering for trying to get his alleged female accomplice to lie about his whereabouts during the robbery.

Skyla Farquharson, 21, of Morrill Street in Laconia, an employee at the restaurant at the time of the robbery, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit robbery for telling Moore how the operations of the store worked and one count of accomplice to robbery for allegedly telling Moore when the coworker was taking out the garbage.

The indictments against the pair were issued Thursday.

Police affidavits said the two had talked about how to rob the store in what Farquharson told them were initially just casual conversations that took a more serious turn just before Moore allegedly robbed it.

Affidavits said Moore allegedly parked across the street, donned a face mask to conceal his identity, and entered the store by grabbing the employee who was taking out the garbage and entering the store.

Moore fled, but police say he later returned to D'Angelo's to give Farquharson a ride home because she was working that evening. Police alleged she told Moore that the restaurant had been busy that day.

Moore has been in the Belknap County House of Corrections since his arrest by Laconia Police in January and is being held on $5,000 cash bail.

Farquharson is free on personal recognizance bail.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 April 2015 01:13

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