Water coming soon to Robbie Mills field


LACONIA — Mother Nature was good this year to the Winnipesaukee Muskrats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. They went an entire season without being able to irrigate their field, but this summer has been so wet that the baseball diamond remained playable.

The team won’t have to depend on charitable weather next season, as a solution to the team’s water woes is nearing completion.

The Robbie Mills Sports Complex, at 15 Eastman Road, depended on a water tower served by a water main that failed in late April.

In addition to not being able to water the field, there has been no running water for restrooms and concessions. Portable toilets were brought in.

The water tower is part of the former State School property, and the state opted not to fix the main.

The city decided to dig two wells to supply the tower and return water to the field, but it took time to get necessary permission from the state. Then the wells did not produce enough water, so they had to be fracked.

Now, all that remains is the final plumbing work and well pump installation, said Kevin Dunleavy, Laconia’s director of recreation and facilities.

“This work will be completed next week,” he said Wednesday. “The rain that we have received this summer has kept the athletic fields in good condition and we expect the fields to flourish this fall with the new water system and the cooler season approaching.”

The project will end up costing about $50,000.

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Robbie Mills Field as of last May. (Courtesy photo)

Meredith Zoning Board cites reasons for denial of boat storage proposal

MEREDITH — The denial of Doug Frederick’s application for a special exception that would have allowed the storage of boats on property currently housing the American Police Motorcycle Museum was based on the opinion that it would be incompatible with the town’s zoning ordinances.
No one from the public offered any testimony against Frederick’s request to continue allowing Meredith Marina to store boats on the property. The marina wants to purchase the property and move its sales offices from Bayshore Drive to the 2.29-acre property at 194 Daniel Webster Highway.
Frederick had been allowing the marina to store boats at no charge, pending the sale, but code enforcement officer Scott Lecroix informed him that boat storage is not a permitted use in the Central Business District, so Frederick would need to seek a variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Frederick appealed the administrative decision, but did not file the paperwork within the allotted time, and the Zoning Board voted not to accept the appeal at its Aug. 10 meeting.
The application for a variance included documents showing a history of using the property for boat storage. Prior to serving as home to the motorcycle museum, it had been the home of Burlwood Antiques.
In its notice of decision, the Zoning Board used the five criteria established through case law, which questions whether granting a variance will be contrary to the public interest; whether it serves the spirit of the ordinance; that granting it would provide “substantial justice”; that the values of surrounding properties would not be diminished; and that literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would result in an unnecessary hardship.
The board concluded that literal enforcement would not create a hardship because there are no “special conditions” about the property that would warrant a variance; that boat storage would be unsightly to passers-by; that it would be contrary to the public interest because having vehicles pulling boats on trailers into traffic “would be problematic, and injurious to the public interest” and “create unnecessary traffic congestion and safety issues;” and that there would be adverse impacts on the character of the area because it would not support other businesses in the area.
“It’s the board’s position that boat storage is not similar to auto sales, service, and repair, and the other permitted uses in the Central Business District,” Chairman Jack Dever wrote. “Boat storage is not a retail operation on its own, and moreover has significant traffic impact potential due to the towing of trailers, which the other businesses do not have. Also, the Board maintains that the spirit of the ordinance is to restrict boat storage to marinas, which are restricted to the Shoreline District.”
Frederick has maintained that the tractor-trailers delivering furniture to Ippolito’s and food to McDonald’s are comparable to the boat traffic that the marina would generate, noting that most of the activity at the marina would be in the spring and fall when boats were going into or coming out of the water. Both of the neighboring businesses supported his application, he said.
Frederick said he intends to appeal the Zoning Board’s decision.

Fire guts building at Laconia Transfer Station


LACONIA — A stubborn fire gutted a large sheet metal building at a garbage transfer station Friday, sending up plumes of smoke visible for miles and keeping firefighters from multiple departments busy for hours.

There were no injuries.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said a commercial trash hauler dropped off a load in the building at 385 Meredith Center Road and the rubbish quickly caught fire, which then spread to the building itself.

“Something came out of a truck,” Erickson said. “The guy said the next thing he knew there was a burst of flames. Obviously they picked something hot up on the route.”

Trash haulers will sometimes unknowingly collect something that is smoldering. The load is compressed in the truck and erupts in fire when it is dumped.

There was no working fire hydrant at the facility, so tanker trucks had to shuttle water from a mile away. One lane of traffic was closed on Elm Street so that tankers could take on water from hydrants.

After commercial trash haulers drop off loads at the transfer station building, other trucks pick up the material and take it off site for final disposal.

Public Works Director Wes Anderson said he would meet with the city's waste management contractor to discuss how the trash transfer process would be handled as the building was heavily damaged, perhaps beyond repair.

Anderson said an engineer would inspect the structure.

He also said he would investigate whether the contractor or the city owns the building and determine who holds the fire insurance.

Erickson said firefighters' jobs were complicated by the fact that a dry hydrant in the area didn't work. This type of hydrant amounts to an unpressurized pipe with one end in a water supply. Erickson said weeds can sometimes infiltrate such pipes, even when they are checked frequently.

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Firefighters battle smoke and fire at the Laconia Transfer Station Friday. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)