A better solution? Lane discusses what is lost in trustees’ plan for Meredith library


MEREDITH — What is there not to like in a library expansion plan with a guaranteed maximum price that is $2 million less than what was proposed to voters last fall?
Lots, according to a retired engineer who served on the Library Trustee-Select Board Joint Feasibility Study Committee, formed to determine whether the Benjamin M. Smith Memorial Library could be expanded to meet community needs at its current location.
Andy Lane, who recently retired from Rist-Frost-Shumway Engineering of Laconia, said, “I do not believe for a second that Lavallee Brensinger Architects means they will maintain the quality and program by paying for the identified scope out of their own funds if unforeseen issues or high sub bids occur enough to use up all the project contingency.”
Lane said all projects consist of a project triangle with three components: program, quality, and price. If the price exceeds what is included in the project contingency figures, the construction manager or architect will have to use “value engineering” to bring costs down to meet the guaranteed maximum price.
“What is really happening is either the quality or program is cheapened,” Lane said.
In his view, the project already has been cheapened by Lavallee Brensinger’s plans for the library.
The study committee supported a plan by Samyn-D’Elia Architects to completely renovate both the original section and the 1988 addition to the library, he said. It “simplified the entire existing and new areas by converting the existing building from a six-story to a three-story structure. This would be accomplished by jacking and raising the 1988 addition around 38 inches to the same level as the historical building. This provides optimal ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] access to all areas.”
The plan uses a lift to provide access to the “clock area” mezzanine, and there is a single 7-inch-high ramp.
By way of contrast, he said, Lavallee Brensinger’s plan leaves the 1988 addition at its present level, “such that the six floors remain in the existing building,” Lane said. “ADA access to these areas, and others is provided via extensive ramp systems with landings. The ‘clock area’ mezzanine remains non-ADA-accessible. These are not suitable solutions for a building for the next 75-plus years. ADA access should be the best possible.”
He said the Samyn-D’Elia plan reuses existing space so the project requires only 6,800 square feet of additional space, while Lavallee Brensinger’s plan requires a, 8,300-square-foot addition.
The original plan used the existing driveway and created a dropoff spot and handicapped parking by the main entrance, while the new plan creates a new driveway and parking area with no dropoff spot.
Lane also disputed the statement that Lavallee Brensinger's plan is $2 million cheaper.
"Their cost estimate did not carry the work for the parking lot ($116,000) that was in ours," he said. "Also, they did not include all the soft costs we  were required to include, for another difference of more than $718,000. The difference is closer to $1 million and has a lot to do with the extent of renovations and quality in renovating the existing buildings."

Real or phantom ledge?
The trustees praised the new plan for siting the addition over the existing driveway to avoid having to deal with ledge on the property.
Lane says the depth, extent, and even the existence of ledge on the property is unknown. He said the study committee wanted to do one or two test borings in the construction area but did not have the time to do so.
“They recommended that, during the next phase of design development, test borings should be authorized very soon in the the process. That is normal design procedure,” he said. “Supposedly, ledge of some kind was encountered somewhere in the past, but the location and depth are unknown. It should be noted that the 1988 addition has its lowest level three feet below the existing historical building’s full basement and no ledge is indicated in these areas.”
He also noted that Lavallee Brensinger’s design includes a full elevator and a slab with five-foot-deep footings and frost wall, so he said ledge could be encountered in that design as well.
“I recommend that both the select board and library trustees step back and meet after the upcoming elections and help each other move this project forward,” Lane said.
“Both concepts are only completed to the schematic/conceptual design level, 10 to 15 percent complete. You also have two approaches available to evaluate and critique. Both have interesting and unique approaches.”
He added, “I feel strongly that the leveling of all floors is paramount to providing an excellent ADA-accessible building, no matter what design develops.”
He also said that, to avoid cost overruns, the town needs to insist on complete design and specification contract documents that “properly identify the level of quality and program required.”
Lane concluded by saying, “Voters in the town of Meredith would benefit in moving this project forward by voting for Ed Touhey, Jonathan James, and Ray Moritz, former members of the Feasibility Study Committee, and Bob Davis, who are informed and knowledgeable about all phases of this project. They have volunteered many hours talking to professionals and looking at all options for the best solutions to renovate the library and to meet all the needs of the library patrons, future residents, and library staff.”

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Levallee Bresinger's conceptual drawing for the Meredith Public Library.

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Samyn-D'Elia's conceptual drawing for the Meredith Public Library.

Volunteers make Francoeur/Babcock tournament a 25-year success story


GILFORD — It takes a lot of volunteers to run a three-day basketball tournament for elementary school students from five communities. 
And it takes a lot of dedication on the part of those volunteers to maintain that effort over a 25-year period.
That’s one of the things that makes the 25th annual Francoeur/Babcock Memorial Basketball Tournament that is being held at Gilford Middle School this weekend a very special event.
Sponsored by the Gilford Parks and Recreation Department, the tournament will have 12 area teams consisting of boys and girls in grades 3-6 from Belmont, Gilford, Gilmanton, Laconia, and Sanbornton.
“We couldn’t do it without all of these volunteers, many of whom keep coming back year after year or who once played in the tournament and want to show their gratitude,” says Herb Greene, director of the Gilford Parks and Recreation Department.
He said many former players and scholarship recipients return each year to help at the tournament, be it officiating, scoring, timing, selling tickets and T-shirts, or working at the concession stand.
The invitational tournament is held in memory of Aaron T. Francoeur, who was a 13-year-old Gilford Middle-High School student when he succumbed to cancer in the summer of 1993. Nathan Babcock’s name was added in 2006 after he lost his battle with cancer in the fall of 2005.
Proceeds from the tournament are awarded through the Aaron T. Francoeur Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Nate Babcock Scholarship Fund to provide deserving students with financial aid while furthering their post-high school education.
Larry Routhier has been involved with the tournament for just about as long as it’s been around. In fact, he was a member of the Gilford Rotary Club that supported the Francoeur scholarship with a community dinner before the tournament was started.
“I’ve been the scorekeeper or run the time clock for years. Being the scorekeeper is easier, as far as I’m concerned. There’s a lot more pressure with running the time clock,” said Routhier.
He said the volunteers get a sense of personal satisfaction out of being involved and noted that his son Tom was a long-time volunteer before moving out of the Lakes Region.
Members of the committee that coordinates the tournament are Amanda Babcock, Ginny Babcock, Jim Babcock, Zak Babcock, Kim Francoeur, Thom Francoeur, Jeff Greeley, Mollie Greeley, Herb Greene, Lisa Harris, Meg Jenkins, Tommy Jenkins, Sue King, Deb Mercer, Rich Milligan, Brenda Nelson, Lindsey Nelson, Rick Nelson, Becky Orton, James Seager, Dave Smith and Sue Smith.
The tournament is open to the public, and everyone is invited to attend. The admission fee is $2 for adults and $1 for children.
The tournament this year consists of the following divisions and teams:
Junior (Coed) Division (Grades 3 and 4) - Gilford, Gilmanton, Lou Athanas and Sanbornton
Senior Girls Division (Grades 5 and 6) - Gilford, Belmont, Lou Athanas and Sanbornton/Pines
Senior Boys Division (Grades 5 and 6) - Gilford, Belmont, Lou Athanas and Sanbornton.
Today’s games begin at 8 a.m., and the last game of the day will be played at 6 p.m. On Sunday, the championship round games are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

Langley Cove developer sues Planning Board


LACONIA — Planning Board Chairman William Contardo has recused himself from deliberations over Langley Cove, a proposed 291-unit condominium development, after a lawsuit alleging he showed bias against the project.
This is the second lawsuit filed against a city board in recent months. In the other suit, the backer of a plan to build a youth camp and conference center on Big Island alleged the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment showed prejudice in rejecting that proposal.
Neighbors have complained strongly about both projects. Public opinion is not a legal criteria for project approval but sometimes seems to influence city boards.
Langley Cove on Weirs Boulevard, first rejected by the city 11 years ago, has been on the agenda of the Planning Board several times this year and late last year.
Tense exchange
In its December meeting, board Chairman William Contardo made comments to a representative for the developer, Brady Sullivan Properties, that were “adversarial, argumentative and obstructive,” the lawsuit filed in Belknap County Superior Court stated.
Contardo chided company representatives for not living in the city and said “he had a duty to advocate against the plan on behalf of abutters,” the lawsuit said.
Contardo said in an interview Thursday that he is not biased against the project but elected to recuse himself from further deliberations because of concerns voiced in the litigation.
He said he remembers a tense exchange and pointed questions, but couldn't remember details. City officials say a system used to videotape these meetings malfunctioned and no recording exists.
Tuesday meeting
On Tuesday, the Planning Board continued consideration of the Langley Cove project to its April 3 meeting after taking testimony from residents of Paugus Woods, a development uphill from the Langley Cove land.
These residents have been critical of the quality of homes, roads and drainage in their development and said they have not been able to get satisfaction from Brady Sullivan, which bought the property from its original developer.
Under the Langley Cove proposal, its residents would use Paugus Woods' roads as an alternative to entering or leaving the development from Weirs Boulevard. 
Residents of Paugus Woods, which is accessed from White Oak Road, say their private streets already have problems and shouldn't be subjected to additional traffic.

Public criticism
Addressing the board, Tom Miller, of 27 Siesta Lane, said Brady Sullivan does not have a good track record.
“They have complaints against them in every job they have ever done,” he said. “They are terrible.”
Paul Wheaton, of 537 Weirs Blvd, complained about the city's consideration process.
“I don't think there's a whole lot of trust here with what's going on,” he said. “People are recusing themselves and people are saying don't talk about that, don't bring that up. We have every right to come in and say what bothers us so you shouldn't talk them down the way you did.”
Edwin Bones, who was chairing the panel in Contardo's absence, responded:
“Let me talk you down, too. I have heard this over and over again. If you don't trust the process, feel free to volunteer up here with the rest of us that you don't trust to make these decisions.
“What I don't have to hear is the same thing, month after month after month. Let us evaluate what is being proposed and make a decision.”
Water intrusion
In an interview Friday, another Paugus Woods resident, Dennis Peterson, estimated that he has spent $8,000 to $10,000  repairing his house and trying to block water intrusion since he bought the home new in 2010.
He noted that the state Attorney General's office has been involved with redressing homeowner complaints there in the past.
As part of a negotiated settlement with that office in 2014, Brady Sullivan agreed to buy back homes from five families at Paugus Woods. Homeowners complained of cracks in the modular structures.
Peterson said water doesn't drain properly off a road and sometimes collects near his home. He had to tear out basement stairs to address the water problem. Other homes have mold because of wetness, he said.
He said he's sorry he ever moved to the area.
“I wouldn't have moved to Laconia at all if I knew how things worked here,” he said. “I'm very disappointed in the way government is run at City Hall.
“A lot of questionable things are done. I requested permits and city inspections for my home and they can't be found.” 
He said he thinks his basement wasn't built properly, something that he said should have been flagged if there was ever an inspection.
Board comment
At the meeting, board member Michael DellaVecchia expressed displeasure at the road plan.
“We can't just say we're going to put 300 units in your backyard and drive them through this residential area,” he said.
He said he “wouldn't be able to sleep at night” if he approved such a road plan.
Board member Gail Denio said roads and drainage concerns must be addressed before the project could go forward “so the concerns of Paugus Woods won't be the concerns of Langley Cove.”
Representatives for the Langley Cove development discussed at the meeting progress toward reaching city requirements, which include attention to roads and drainage.
Marc Pinard, an attorney for the developer, did not return a call for further comment Friday.
Planning Director Dean Trefethen said in an interview that when neighbors testify it “tugs on the heartstrings,” but he said planning for the project is moving forward and that he ultimately expects city staff will recommend to the board that it approve the project.