A boundary line between the Gilford Transfer Station and the Laconia Municipal Airport runs across the top of a decades old, man-made sand hill. Gilford would like to remove the entire hill, at its own expense, in order to make way for an expansion of the facility but needs Laconia's permission to do so. Laconia's City Council wants to know what is going to happen to the sand that is now on city property and how the new boundary will be marked before granting that permission. The picture above shows the Gilford side of the hill, which has already been substantially mined. (Laconia Daily Sun photo)
Gilford wants to remove sand hill on edge of Laconia Airport but city says not so fast
By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — For anyone who thinks local government officials don't occasionally get in the weeds when parsing minor issues, Exhibit A is a 50-foot sand hill sitting on the border of the Laconia Municipal Airport and the Gilford Transfer Station.
The Laconia City Council had a lengthy discussion about the sand Monday before tabling the matter for further consideration.
Gilford is expanding its transfer station near the Laconia Airport and wants to build a new roadway near the sand, which is apparently left over from an old construction project. The pile has been there long enough for mature trees to grow atop it. Rather than build a retaining wall to protect the road from shifting sand, Gilford would like to truck it away.
Not so fast, say Laconia officials. If Gilford were to haul off the sand, Laconia could be losing out because the sand has potential value. Gilford told Laconia it can keep the sand it wants.
Still, city councilors had questions for Mayor Ed Engler when he presented the matter for consideration Monday. How valuable is the sand? Who would move it to Laconia if the city wants it? Isn't there a gun range near there?
The airport itself is wholly contained within the boundaries of Gilford but Laconia owns the land.
Public Works Director Wesley Anderson is now investigating the quality of the sand. He is awaiting a report from Gilford on the quality of the material and how it might be put to use.
“Gilford is using the sand, but it doesn't meet specifications for road building unless you add something to it,” he said. “They tend to use it when they don't need high-quality sand.”
It turns out not all sand is alike. Some holds up well to compaction and can be used as a road bed. Others have a lot of fine material, and are best used as a bed for pipes.
As for who would move the sand should Laconia want it, Anderson doesn't think that is a big problem.
Heavy equipment would scoop it into huge trucks. It's not like men would deploy with shovels. The work could be assigned on days when workers were between jobs, or when bad weather idles other projects.
It's not unusual for public works departments to collaborate on projects.
In any case, Anderson said he would only want some of the sand.
“I only use five trucks of sand a year,” he said. “Maybe I'd take 20 truck loads. I'm not going to stock a hundred years worth of sand.”
Meanwhile, Gilford Town Administrator Scott Dunn awaits word from Laconia officials on whether they want the material and how they will get it. Potentially, Gilford could move the sand to a new location until the matter is resolved.
“The wheels of government move slowly,” he noted.