Belmont Village revitalization project sidewalks don't meet ADA requirements

BELMONT — Selectmen were less than happy when they received word at Monday night's meeting that some of the recent sidewalk improvements made as part the village revitalization project do not meet American With Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
Kelly Marsh, who gave a presentation on what the town must do in order to comply with the law, told them the curb in front of town hall was not built to standards, and, that, as a result, a disabled person in a wheelchair ''could go right off from the ramp.''
She also said that bricks are not recommended as a feature of sidewalks due to ice buildup in the cracks, and said that if the town ever redoes the sidewalks, it should flatten out the surface.
That led Selectman John Pike to say he thought the town should send a letter to the engineering firm which did the Main Street work to tell them the sidewalks do not meet the ADA code.
The approximately $1.5 million project, which was completed nearly two years ago, involved the reconstruction of Main, Mill, Center, Fuller and Sargent streets, as well as the reclamation and remediation of the pavement and sidewalks, the replacement of the water system, and landscaping and lighting.
The project was funded by a combination of U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Development Block Grant, the state Revolving Fund and money accrued by the town in highway improvement reserve funds from local taxes, and a highway block grant.

Ward 6 & police commission races most likely to draw voters today

LACONIA — Although the mayor, six city councilors, two members of the Police Commission and four members of the School Board will be chosen at today's municipal election, there are only five contested races on the ballot, with the match between the four candidates vying for two seats on Police Commission the only contest on the ballot in all six wards.

There are races for two of the six City Council seats, both of them rematches. In Ward 2, David Bownes, the incumbent, is challenged by Richard Beaudoin, whom he defeated to win the seat in 2013. In Ward 6, Armand Bolduc, who is seeking his 16th term on the council, faces Tony Felch for the third time.

Incumbent Mayor Ed Engler and councilors Ava Doyle (Ward 1), Henry Lipman (Ward 3), Brenda Baer (Ward 4), and Bob Hamel (Ward 5) are all running unopposed.

The lone contested race for the School Board is in Ward 2, where incumbent Barbara Luther, who was appointed to fill the vacant seat last year, is challenged by James McCoole.

Incumbent Malcolm Murray (Ward 1), Heather Lounsbury, a newcomer running to fill the seat in Ward 6 opened by the retirement of Joe Cormier, and Michael Persson, the incumbent at-large member, are all unopposed.

Incumbent Doug Whittum is joined by three newcomers — Tom Tarr, Jonathan Muller and Michael Gagnon — in the contest to fill two of the three seats on Police Commission.

The polling station in Ward 1 is at the Belknap County Nursing Home, 30 County Drive; in Ward 2 at the St. Andre Bessette Parish Hall, 31 Gilford Ave.; in Ward 3 at Laconia Middle School, 150 McGrath St.; in Ward 4 at the New Covenant Church at the Memorial Park Clubhouse; in Ward 5 at Woodland Heights Elementary School, 225 Winter St. Extension; and Ward 6 at the Leavitt Park Clubhouse, 334 Elm St.

The polls will be open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Shaker schools' long-standing practice of limiting voting period to 1 1/2 hours appears at an end

BELMONT — The Shaker Regional School District will change the long familiar voting hours for its annual school district meetings in order to comply with state law according to Roy Roberts, the school district's moderator.
Roberts says that for decades the voting hours have extended from 6 p.m., an hour before the start of the annual meeting, until around 7:30 p.m.
''We've been doing that ever since I can remember and that's the way it was when I first became moderator in 1990,'' said Roberts.
He said that the new hours for voting for school officials will run from 11 a.m. until around 7:30 p.m. and that he is contacting voting officials in both Belmont and Canterbury to inform them of the change.
The annual school meeting for the Shaker district takes place at Belmont High School and requires supervisors of the checklist from both towns to be present.
Roberts said he learned that the district was in violation of state elections laws through a phone call from a person who told him about a story which appeared in Thursday's Concord Monitor concerning the Merrimack Valley School District, which had similar voting hours.
The story said that in August, Merrimack Valley received a cease and desist order from the N.H. Attorney General's office that the district must follow state law and have the polls open from for a minimum of eight hours.
Roberts said that both Merrimack Valley and the Shaker School District were members of School Administrative Unit 46 for many years until the Shaker District withdrew and formed SAU 80 in the 1990s.
The Shaker District was formed in 1972 by Belmont and Canterbury.
Former Shaker School Board member Tom Goullette, who spent 24 years on the board, said that he thinks the voting hours for the annual meeting were based on what was the practice at that time for the Merrimack Valley School District.
''We modeled our practices after them.'' said Goullette.