By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — With the City Council set to consider whether or not to offer the Lakeport Fire Station for sale, City Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) has asked his colleagues to request that building be put on National Register of Historic Places, which would ensure the preservation of the building forever.
"The people of Lakeport don't want to see the building go," Bolduc said. "They want to want save it. If it makes the list like it should, it will be there forever."
The future of the property was thrown into limbo in September when Erica Blizzard, who owns and operates Lakeport Landing Marina, offered to purchase it, along with one abutting and another nearby lot, where the company would demolish the fire station and construct its showroom and offices. She offered $127,700 for three lots, which together amount to less than an acre. The offer represents the assessed value of the land and does not include a value for the building.
The offer fell on the heels of a tentative settlement of litigation Blizzard brought against the city after the council agreed to sell property Lakeport Landing had leased from the city for 30 years to Irwin Marine. Soon after Blizzard made her offer, a number of other parties expressed interest in the property, but Irwin Marine, which is a party to the lawsuit, was not among them.
Earlier this month, the council took the the first step toward offering the property for sale by holding a public hearing, but deferred its decision whether or not to declare the property "surplus" and available for sale. Instead, the council authorized City Manager Scott Myers to commission an appraisal of the property. When the council meets on Monday, it will be faced with two alternatives: either to declare the property "surplus" and for sale or to apply to place the fire station on the National Register of Historic Places.
At the public hearing, nearly a dozen people, including Catherine Tokarz, who chairs the Heritage Commission, and members of the Lakeport Association, urged residents of Lakeport, many of them residents of Lakeport, urged the city to retain ownership of the property and preserve the building. Only one speaker favored selling the building and redeveloping the property.
Bolduc said he told Blizzard from the beginning that the people of Lakeport want the fire station to remain and that he would he would support their effort to preserve it. He said that while he had not counted votes among the councilors, "I would hope they will go long with what the people want. We've done what the downtown people want and what the The Weirs people want and I hope we will do the same for the people of Lakeport."
Built in 1955, the station has not operated since the early 1981, but has served as a dormitory for student firefighters and housed fire vehicles from time to time until relatively recently. The building currently serves as a garage for vehicle of the Community Emergency Response Team. Deputy Fire Chief Kirk Beattie said that the expansion and renovation of Central Fire Station was designed to render the Lakeport Fire Station redundant.
There are 14 buildings and places in the city listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the Federal Building, Evangelical Baptist Church, Endicott Rock, Busiel-Seeburg Mill, John W. Busiel House, Belknap-Sulloway Mill, Gale Memorial Library, Goss Reading Room, Laconia District Court, the Railroad Station, New Hampshire Veterans Historic District, the United Baptist Church, the Post Office and The Weirs.
"It will be interesting," Bolduc said of the upcoming discussion at City Council. "If Hillary can get away with what she's doing, we ought to be able to get away with doing the right thing."
The possible sale of the Lakeport Fire Station, overshadowed by its surviving hose tower at the rear where fire hoses were hung to dry, will be the subject of debate when the city council meets Monday. City Councilor Armand Bolduc proposed the building be put on the National Register of Historic Places, while Erica Blizzard, the owner of Lakeport Landing Marina, and others seek to purchase and redevelop the property. (File photo)