Meredith ponders new library locations

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — A week after the Board of Trustees of the Meredith Public Library voted to leave the Benjamin M. Smith Memorial Library, a panel charged with selecting a site Tuesday appeared to question the vote to move to a new location in its report to the Library Planning Committee.
The panel wrote "we must be absolutely sure the public approves the abandonment of this historic town facility" and continued, in italics for emphasis "Before that decision can be openly and transparently made, we need a robust dialogue on whether to abandon the present site and a reliable quantitative measure of what the public wants."
Meanwhile, Duncan McNeish said that four criteria were applied to prospective sites for a new single-level library. The lot should between three and four acres in size with frontage on one or more major thoroughfares with prominent visibility. In addition, the panel sought a property within easy reach of Meredith Center.
The panel recommended three properties in order of preference — one on Barnard Ridge Road, another on Plymouth Street and a third, known as the Robertson property, at the southwest corner of the roundabout between US Route 3 and Parade Road.
A number of sites were considered only to be eliminated as either too small or too distant from the town center. These included the former home of Aubuchon Hardware at the junction of US Route 3 and NH Route 25, the Lang Street School, the Orthopedic Clinic at NH Route 4 and Winona Road the former Department of Public Works on Daniel Webster Highway and lots on on Upper Ladd Hill Road and Jenness Hill Road.
The Planning Committee will meet again on Tuesday, May 31, to further consider the panel's report.

City wants state school property to be sold

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The City Council unanimously adopted a resolution Monday urging the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Service to proceed with the process of offering the former Laconia State School for sale as stipulated by the companion bill to the 2016-2017 state budget.

Mayor Ed Engler proposed the resolution in the wake of a proposal introduced by state Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, to repeal the directive to sell the property and instead lease it to private party for a substance abuse treatment and recovery facility.

The resolution recalled that in December Michael Connor, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services told the mayor and city manager Scott Myers that a broker would be hired and the property would be listed for approximately six months before granting the city an opportunity to exercise its right of "first refusal" to purchase it, if necessary by matching the highest and best offer submitted.

Engler said that following the process is in the best interests of the city, explaining that marketing the property could provide an indication of its value as well as how private owners might redevelop it.

WOW Trail given green light, parking spaces, turn lane to go

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — At the request of the Winnipesauke-Opechee-Winnisquam (WOW) Trail committee, the City Council agreed Monday to eliminate the dedicated right-turn lane leading from New Salem Street to Main Street along with 12 parking spaces on New Salem Street to clear the route of the second phase of the trail from the Laconia Public Library to the Belmont town line.

The vote was taken without debate and Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) alone dissented. Although Baer did not speak to her vote, she had earlier expressed misgivings about the risks to both pedestrians and cyclists crossing Main Street .

Maureen Bieniarz-Pond read a letter from Richard Mitchell, who owns and operates Pitman's Freight Room, repeating his opposition to the route of the trail, which not only will pass about 12 feet from the entrance to his building but also eliminate the dozen parking spaces near his venue.

City Manager Scott Myers said that the city has accepted an offer from Craig Beane, who owns property on New Salem Street, to share parking spaces on his lot, which houses the Salvation Army Thrift Store. Beane has indicated that between 30 and 60 could be made available to the public. Myers said yesterday discussion are underway to determine how many spaces could be opened to public parking and at what times.

Allan Beetle, president of the WOW Trail committee said that the Planning Board is expected to approve the route of the trail when it meets next month and that construction is scheduled to begin in July with hopes of completing the project in October.